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Vladimir Putin reportedly can’t even trust his inner circle anymore, lest he get a “hammer to the head,” and his approval rating is in the can. In fact, that rating’s lower than it’s been (globally) in 20 years, all after he decided to invade Ukraine, which has made molotov-cocktails waving grandmas real with President Zelensky (who refuses to leave his people) emerging as a folk hero. There’s plenty of talk about a secret successor in process, given that Putin (and in turn, Russia) is now a global pariah who’s plagued by sanctions, and we already heard that Putin’s circling the wagons with his few allies, which still include China and India.
Who else can Putin rustle up? He’s apparently reaching into the bottom of the barrel here, as the Associated Press reports. The Russian president’s new friends are… the Taliban. Wildly enough, he’s now embracing the group under the guise of helping a very divided Afghanistan come together. This is happening even though Russia has previously agreed with most of the rest of the world in declaring the Taliban to be “a terrorist group.” From the AP:
President Vladimir Putin says Russia is trying to build relations with the Taliban and that Russia wants to see all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan take part in running the country.
Putin’s statement Tuesday came in a meeting with President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan during the Russian leader’s first trip abroad since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict. Tajikistan, which hosts a Russian military base, has a long and porous border with Afghanistan and is wary that Islamic radicalism could seep into the country.
That’s wild as heck, even as Putin’s putting on concerned diplomatic airs while determining to make new friends. Sidling up to the Taliban certainly isn’t a good look, but neither is bombing shopping centers like it’s no big deal, all to serve an imperialistic desire. It’s really no wonder that U.S. intelligence officials cite sources that say Putin’s “rule is no longer absolute” in his country or anywhere else.
(Via Associated Press)