Design a site like this with
Get started


Putin’s age might be more significant in this matter than you think.

Vladimir Putin is now 69 years old. At the beginning of World War II, in 1939, Hitler was 50, and his then ally, Stalin, was 60. That’s more than a decade less than Putin is right now, and in Hitler’s case almost 2 decades.

Hitler died at 56, and Stalin at 74, which makes Putin closer to the tyrant’s dying years, than to their war-waging years. I mean, he is just 5 years away from the age at which Stalin had a debilitating stroke which eventually killed him, and he is more than 10 years overdue on Hitler’s suicide. Both Hitler and Stalin had more sense than to start a (world) war in their old age.

This is perhaps even more significant than you think. And I don’t only mean in the sense of (negative) impact on decision-making and mental health old age certainly can have, as almost anyone who has parents in this age range can probably confirm. It just seems to me that Putin has arrived too late to his own war. Perhaps even more than a decade too late. And he has definitely arrived too late if he has wider ambitions of world domination. And that actually might be the reason we are seeing today what we’re seeing.

Quite honestly, this current situation is more than reminiscent of a Cold War escalation (with nuclear threat!), with the difference of Russia not being the Soviet Union, in the sense of neither having their might nor their indoctrination, the latter of which was arguably the main reason of their (relative) unity and power. Putin has intimidation tactics and personal ambition, but it is hard to indoctrinate a nation just by the cult of personality of a (not very) charismatic and sociable individual, without some wider philosophy backing it up. Even Stalin knew this – Stalin’s cult of personality was never just about Stalin himself, his image was always coupled with the wider worldview of the Communist party.

Putin’s image just doesn’t have that kind of backing today despite his propaganda machine working tirelessly for more than a decade, and especially not in comparison with Hitler with whom a whole nation identified, and whose army was directed by his fanatics (SS and other special units) even on the smaller scale. Hitler was a religion. Putin is an ambitious man. And an old man at that. A man in many ways trapped in another time, a time of his prime when he was not in power, when the Soviet machine was in power. His, over the years, growing isolation contributed to that entrapment. Two things to illustrate this point.

Years ago, I was reading an article about the Russian President’s usual day, and was struck by many details of that account, which even then seemed to be significant. One that stayed with me was that Putin was usually driven alone on an empty road to Kremlin from his outside-town palace. I’ve tried at the time to put myself in his shoes and think what an effect that would have on my mind over time – riding on my private highway, emptied just for me. I thought how it would probably make me more and more disconnected from the life of an ordinary man, or any man, while still leaving me just a man. I thought how that might make me vulnerable, not really sure what was really happening around me, as this kind of bubble will probably follow me around, distorting my reality.

The other thing that struck me was that Putin sometimes reads spy-stories for fun, probably because he reminisced about old Soviet propaganda spy-movies which were allegedly a part of his incentive to try to get the KGB to employ him. Judging by recent events, these are the fantasies that still occupy him – the glory of the long-lost Soviet Union which arguably could compete with the West on equal footing.

I find this book cover funny in this context. Haven’t read the book though.

Hitler arrived to power when he was 44, Putin when he was 47. But if Putin dreams of world domination, those dreams are acted upon much later than in Hitler’s case. I have my doubts that perhaps Putin wanted America on his side, as well as a few other nations (China? Saudi Arabia? Serbia?…) around the world, and in key points which he hoped to achieve (in part) by social media disinformation. However, Biden won the American latest election and in other places the fruits of propaganda had not sufficiently ripened yet. And I believe Putin knows this. But he still did what he did, because he knew his time was soon up either way.

A few years ago, I used to wonder what he planned in terms of his succession – another dictator (perhaps even a dynasty in the old Tsarist way) or a democracy, but now I see that what he probably always thought was, in line with his megalomaniacal narcissistic delusions, just like King Louis XV’s: “Après moi, le déluge” or, “After me, flood.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: