At the beginning of last year, Vlad “The Lad” Putin finally set out once and for all to achieve his life’s ambition of restoring the glory of the Soviet Union by completing the invasion of Ukraine which he’d begun with the annexation of Crimea back in 2014.
It’s now coming up on 18 months later; Putin has spent over a year being militarily humiliated by a short Jewish comedian whose previous claim to fame was a TV sketch in which he pretended to play piano with his private parts, and finally, the weekend before last, found himself on the brink of being overthrown by a mercenary army led by his former caterer.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t think this was the plan.
Exactly why Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group private army cancelled their revolt when they were a couple of hours’ drive from Moscow remains shrouded in intrigue, and quite what Mr Prigozhin’s own prospects might now be is equally unknown, although one imagines his plans don’t involve a lot of admiring the view from the upper floors of tall buildings or eating soup.
The one thing on which there appears to be consensus is that Mr Putin’s previously ironclad reputation as the unchallengeable, unshakeable He Who Must Not Be Named of the east has sustained serious, perhaps terminal damage (especially in light of the rumour that he fled Moscow ahead of the Wagner boys’ anticipated arrival).
This could prove dangerous to Mr Putin in the coming months; given the rapturous reception the Wagner troops were given by the local citizenry on their Moscow-ward march it seems that many, if not most, of the Russian people are eager to see the back of him.
With this in mind, here are some things Vladimir Putin could do to get his mojo back…
INVADE SOMEWHERE ELSE
Ok, so the whole “restore the Soviet Union” thing has taken a bit of a hit thanks to Ukraine, but there’s nothing to stop Putin branching out into some truly uncharted territory for his next adventure. I’m thinking the MOON. It’s not like anyone else is using it and just think of the boost to Russia’s military prestige.
This would of course be presented to the Russian people not as “invading the moon”, but rather as the “Special Operation To Liberate The Moon From Neo-Nazi Clangers”.
UP THE STAKES PHOTO-SHOOT WISE
Everyone was of course EXTREMELY IMPRESSED by the photos released a few years ago of a shirtless, muscled Vlad riding a horse through the freezing Siberian mountains and stalking bears with a hunting rifle, and did NOT think they looked in any way silly, narcissistic or indeed screechingly homoerotic.
As such, it’s time to call a new photo-op but also to increase the machismo factor: this time Vlad will fight bears WITHOUT a hunting rifle. Just man versus beast. Fur versus pectorals. Tooth and claw versus (if all else fails) novichok.
STAR IN A SERIES OF HEROIC ACTION MOVIES
While the currently leading man-less Bond movies are in limbo, there’s a gap in the market for glossy high-octane spy thrillers. I’m sure Mr Putin wouldn’t have much trouble “persuading” a leading Russian movie studio to produce a Vlad-led franchise of blockbuster spy thrillers.
If the rumours are true about Mr Putin’s failing health, no matter; these days it’s a simple enough job to “deep fake” his face on to the head of a jacked-up stunt double (thus following in the fine tradition of ailing Russian leaders – allegedly – trotting out the lookalikes when the job starts to get a bit much).
SHOVE LITERALLY THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF RUSSIA OUT OF A HIGH WINDOW
I can neither confirm nor deny that US spy satellites have spotted the construction in the Urals of an enormous 200-metre-high platform with a huge open window on one side, through which whole populations could be herded to their entirely accidental and inexplicable doom.
Because, like all great patriots, Putin loves his country but despises all the people in it (and don’t think the whole “cheering the Wagner boys” thing went unnoticed, yeah I’m looking at you, Rostov-on-Don). Once they’ve all been eliminated he’ll be free to spend more time relaxing at his comically huge supervillain table.
GET A PRESENTING JOB AT GB NEWS
Well, it’s what every other populist shyster does these days when their career runs out of road (see Poem of the Week).
POEM OF THE WEEK
Alas for Nigel Farage; by Coutts he has been told
That his accounts have all been frozen and his assets placed on hold
Why is he now in penury? Whence cometh all his troubles?
Did his bankers finally notice his account was full of roubles?
Wherefore is Nigel cast aside? The nation wonders why
Have his various sugar daddies terminated their supply
Of the rent paid on his Chelsea house and funds saved for retirement
Just because he’s served his purpose and is surplus to requirements?
Alas, to earn a living is now far beyond his powers
All he can do is ask that GB News increase his hours
Can he reclaim his dignity from such grave affront?
While the nation ponders “Couldn’t happen to a bigger
(And that’s my word limit; see you next week – MB)