In his inaugural address for his fourth term in office, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it his duty is to ensure that Russia is “peaceful and prosperous.” Based on his last term alone, it’s fair to say his statement is misleading. Russians are involved in wars in two countries and, after a period of recession, Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) remains at “stagnation” levels.
During Putin’s early years as president, particularly in the mid-2000s, Russians experienced a significant rise in living standards. High oil prices and sensible domestic and foreign policies led to the creation of a Russian “middle class.”
But in Putin’s last term alone, he used his military to take control of and completely annex the Crimean peninsula in 2014. In Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Putin fomented a war disguised as a “separatist uprising.” To this day the Kremlin keeps the war going by supplying arms, material, and money to two self-proclaimed “republics” in the region. The International Criminal Court has ruled that the annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region constitute an international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine.