President Vladimir Putin's State of the Union Address Fails to Impress

December 5, 2014 1:17 AM

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President Vladimir Putin's State of the Union Address Fails to Impress

Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address on Thursday looked at first like a flashback to the not-so-distant past. It was held in St. George’s Hall, the same ornate room in the Kremlin where the Russian President announced his decision in March to annex the region of Crimea. The same honor guard opened the gilded doors when it came time for the President to enter, and Putin sprung into the hall with his usual strut, at once cocky and contained, like a boxer trotting into the ring. He also surprised exactly no one by repeating his hackneyed slogans of defiance toward the West: “It is pointless trying to talk to Russia from a position of strength,” he declared. And later on: “No one can gain military superiority over Russia!”

But there was one big difference: the reaction. The audience’s composition was the same as before, the rows packed with the same sycophantic lawmakers, technocrats, and propagandists who attended Putin’s blistering Crimea speech on March 18. But the applause Putin received this time was a lot more m...

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