Amid Ukraine war crisis, Vladimir Putin turns 70 with a prayer for his health

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LONDON (AP) — President Vladimir Putin turned 70 on Friday amid sycophantic congratulations from his subordinates and a plea from Patriarch Kirill for all laymen and clerics to pray for the health of Russia’s longest-serving supreme leader. Joseph Stalin.
Putin, who ascended to the highest post in the Kremlin on the last day of 1999, faces the biggest challenge of his tenure after the invasion of Ukraine triggered the most serious confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

In his birthday, putin he is scheduled to attend an informal summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States in St. Petersburg, the former imperial capital founded by Peter the Great that is his hometown.
Obsequious officials hailed Putin as the savior of modern Russia, while the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia implored the country to hold two days of special prayers for God to grant Putin “health and longevity.”
“We pray to you, our Lord God, for the head of the Russian State, Vladimir Vladimirovich, and ask you to give him your rich mercy and generosity, grant him health and longevity, and free him from all resistance from visible and invisible enemies. , confirm him in wisdom and spiritual strength, for all, Lord, hear him and have mercy,” Kirill said.

Putin, who has vowed to end the chaos that gripped Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, is facing the most serious war crisis a Kremlin chief has faced in at least a generation since Afghanistan’s war in 1979-1989.
Opponents like jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny say Putin has led Russia down a dead-end road to ruin, building a fragile system of incompetent sycophants that will eventually collapse and throw Russia into chaos.
Supporters say that Putin saved Russia from destruction by an arrogant and aggressive West. They say that he has regained his influence after the humiliations suffered by the Russian elite when the Cold War ended.
Live updates of the Russian-Ukrainian war
But Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has so far failed.
After more than seven months of war, Russia has suffered huge losses in men and equipment and been defeated on several fronts in the past month, as Putin’s army lurched from one humiliation to another.
Putin has resorted to proclaiming the annexation of territories only partly under Russian control – and whose borders, according to the Kremlin, have not yet been defined – and threatens to defend them with nuclear weapons.

A partial mobilization declared by the president on September 21 has unfolded so chaotically that even Putin has been forced to admit mistakes and order changes. Hundreds of thousands of men have fled abroad to avoid being summoned.
Even the Kremlin’s normally loyal allies have denounced the failings of the military, though so far they have stopped short of criticizing the president himself.
Reflecting on Putin’s birthday, former Kremlin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov said: “On an anniversary, it is customary to summarize the results, but the results are so deplorable that it would be better not to draw too much attention to the anniversary.”

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