A year after the invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has no other option but to head forward. On the battlefield, this has been reflected since the fall in the incessant harassment of the Ukrainian population and the bombardment of civilian infrastructure. On the rhetorical field, the Russian president gets bogged down in the delusional obsessions that served as a pretext for launching the war: “neo-Nazi” Ukraine, the “decadent” West, or pedophilia which would have become “a norm” in Europe. These fixed ideas, he once again rehashed them, Tuesday, February 21, in a virulent speech to the nation whose objective was less to remobilize the Russians than to display his determination internationally.
This posture is not new. Since returning to the Kremlin in 2012, Vladimir Putin has been the prosecutor of the West. He presents himself as the champion of fantasized traditional values, of which the Russian nation would be, according to him, a privileged guardian. Last September, he went so far as to speak of the “liberating mission of Russia”. He knows the flaws of European societies, the doubts that run through them, their identity or cultural concerns. But he underestimated their ability to come together when a hostile regime threatens their freedoms. While there is indeed a civilizational aspect to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the front line is not between progressivism and conservatism, but between democracies and authoritarian regimes. Everything else is crude propaganda. It’s a convenient way to conceal the lack of strategy of a man who is essentially fighting for his own survival and that of his regime.