Vladimir Putin will be the big absentee at the London funeral that will bring together a record number of world leaders on 19 September. As usual, this kind of planetary event has its own geopolitical dimension, a reflection of the tensions and conflicts of the moment.
Putin and the representatives of the Russian authorities were not invited to London due to the invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has criticized a decision it deems “deeply immoral” and even “blasphemous”.
The story highlights the pariah status now assigned to the Russian president. The countries that were not sent to the funeral are just seven: Russia, its Belarusian ally, Burma once again a military dictatorship, Bashar al Assad’s Syria, Taliban’s Afghanistan and Maduro’s Venezuela. It is a shortened list containing the infrequent regimes from London’s point of view. China is represented by Vice President Wang Qishan.
For Putin, the exclusion is particularly offensive when we consider that Prince Philip, husband of the queen, was a direct descendant of Tsar Nicholas I Romanov. The decision did not raise much discussion. Even if we want to consider the period of mourning as a respite in the tensions of the world, in fact, today no one wants to see Putin in meditation before the remains of the queen just at the moment when in Izjum, a city just reconquered by the Ukrainians, new evidence of torture comes to light. committed by Russian soldiers.
In 2019 Putin went to Paris for the ceremony in memory of President Jacques Chirac despite his country being subjected to the sanctions for the annexation of Crimea, but that context is completely different from the current one, with the gap that has been created between Russia and Westerners after the invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.
Pariah in the West, Putin sees his star fade even among his allies. The recent Samarkand summit was a particularly difficult time for the head of the Kremlin. Putin, in fact, had to publicly admit that he had to respond to the “concerns” of his Chinese friends, recognizing for the first time that Beijing is not totally in agreement with the Ukrainian adventure. He was also criticized for the invasion by Indian Prime Minister Modi, who had so far maintained a benevolent attitude.
If Putin had succeeded in his coup in February, today he would be the hero of that part of the world that wants to challenge the Western-controlled world order. But the blitzkrieg failed and the Russian army has just suffered its worst defeat against the Ukrainians.
There is one aspect that highlights the relative isolation of Russia: the countries that are part of the United Nations have voted to allow Ukrainian President Zelenskii to intervene on video at the next general assembly. Only seven countries voted against (including Russia), 101 voted in favor and 19 abstained. India voted in favor. China abstained. Neither of the two heavyweights of the Samarkand summit, therefore, clearly sided with Moscow.
As the world shares the UK’s mourning without him, Putin must find a way out of the impasse, but he doesn’t seem willing to admit his failure. This refusal feeds the risk of escalation on all fronts.
(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)