Putin’s path: from pledges of stability to nuclear threats


              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting with the winners and finalists of the School Teacher of the Year national contest via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. Putin, who turned 70 on Friday, has found himself increasingly cornered with his army suffering humiliating defeats in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing his mobilization order and rifts opening up among his top lieutenants. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, speaks as Leonid Pasechnik, leader of self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, left, Denis Pushilin, leader of self-proclaimed of the Donetsk People's Republic, second left, Moscow-appointed head of Kherson Region Vladimir Saldo, second right, and Moscow-appointed head of Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, right, stand near him during celebrations marking the incorporation of regions of Ukraine to join Russia in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. The signing of the treaties making the four regions part of Russia follows the completion of the Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums." (Sergei Karpukhin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin joins hands with Moscow-appointed head of Kherson Region Vladimir Saldo, Moscow-appointed head of Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Denis Pushilin, leader of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Leonid Pasechnik, leader of self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, as they celebrate at the Kremlin during a ceremony to sign the treaties for four regions of Ukraine to join Russia, in Moscow, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. The signing of the treaties making the four regions part of Russia follows the completion of the Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums." (Grigory Sysoyev, Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - People watch Russian President Vladimir Putin's address as they gather during celebrations marking the incorporation of the Luhansk region into Russia in Luhansk, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. The signing of the treaties making the four regions part of Russia follows the completion of the Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums." Words on their ti-shorts are reading "Volunteers for Russia, With Russia forever!". (AP Photo, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin watches the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) military exercise in far eastern Russia, outside Vladivostok, on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022. Putin has signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect the Russian gains in Ukraine - the harrowing rhetoric that shattered a mantra of stability he has repeated throughout his 22-year rule. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - This photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Feb. 19, 2022, shows a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile being launched from an air field during military drills. With his room for maneuver narrowing quickly amid Russian military defeats in Ukraine, Putin has signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect the Russian gains in Ukraine - the harrowing rhetoric that shattered a mantra of stability he has repeated throughout his 22-year rule. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks to the media after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. With his room for maneuver narrowing quickly amid Russian military defeats in Ukraine, Putin has signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect the Russian gains in Ukraine - the harrowing rhetoric that shattered a mantra of stability he has repeated throughout his 22-year rule. (Sergei Bobylev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to winners of cultural, scientific and sports student competitions at the Museum and Theatre Educational Complex in Kaliningrad, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. Putin, who turned 70 on Friday, has found himself increasingly cornered with his army suffering humiliating defeats in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing his mobilization order and rifts opening up among his top lieutenants. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during celebrations marking the incorporation of regions of Ukraine to join Russia in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. Putin, who turned 70 on Friday, has found himself increasingly cornered with his army suffering humiliating defeats in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing his mobilization order and rifts opening up among his top lieutenants. (Grigory Sysoyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Riot police detain a demonstrator during a protest against mobilization in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, effective immediately. (AP Photo, File)
            
              FILE - Russian recruits walk to take a train at a railway station in Prudboi, Volgograd region of Russia, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. With the Russian army retreating under the blows of Ukrainian forces armed with Western weapons, Putin raised the stakes by annexing four Ukrainian regions and declaring a partial mobilization of up to 300,000 reservists to buttress the crumbling frontline. (AP Photo, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin lights a candle visiting the Peter and Paul Cathedral prior to signing the decrees approving the Naval Doctrine and the Ship Charter of the Russian Navy in the St. Petersburg State History Museum and before the main naval parade marking Russian Navy Day in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, July 31, 2022. Putin, who turned 70 on Friday, has found himself increasingly cornered with his army suffering humiliating defeats in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing his mobilization order and rifts opening up among his top lieutenants. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, marking the 81st anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. By unleashing the disastrous war in Ukraine, Europe's largest military conflict since World War II, Putin has broken an unwritten social contract that saw the Russians tacitly agree to forego post-Soviet political freedoms in exchange for a relative prosperity and internal stability. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)
            
              FILE - Participants watch Russian President Vladimir Putin's addressing a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 17, 2022. Putin has broken an unwritten social contract that saw the Russians tacitly agree to forego post-Soviet political freedoms in exchange for a relative prosperity and internal stability. (AP Photo, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during an event to celebrate the 1160th anniversary of Russian statehood in Veliky Novgorod, one of the oldest cities in Russia, being first mentioned in the 9th century, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Putin, who turned 70 on Friday, has found himself increasingly cornered with his army suffering humiliating defeats in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing his mobilization order and rifts opening up among his top lieutenants. (Ilya Pitalev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during interview with the Russia-1 TV channel in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, June 3, 2022. Putin, who turned 70 on Friday, has found himself increasingly cornered with his army suffering humiliating defeats in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing his mobilization order and rifts opening up among his top lieutenants. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, holds a binoculars as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu sits near watching the joint strategic exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus Zapad-2021 at the Mulino training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region, Russia, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. With his room for maneuver narrowing quickly amid Russian military defeats in Ukraine, Putin has signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect the Russian gains in Ukraine - the harrowing rhetoric that shattered a mantra of stability he has repeated throughout his 22-year rule. (Sergei Savostyanov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - In this image made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressees the nation in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian troops launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine on Thursday, as Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to "consequences you have never seen." (Russian Presidential Press Service via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attend the opening of the Army 2022 International Military and Technical Forum in the Patriot Park outside Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 15, 2022. With his room for maneuver narrowing quickly amid Russian military defeats in Ukraine, Putin has signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect the Russian gains in Ukraine - the harrowing rhetoric that shattered a mantra of stability he has repeated throughout his 22-year rule. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, left, talks to President Vladimir Putin, right, during the Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on April 28, 2019. Putin, who turned 70 on Friday, has found himself increasingly cornered with his army suffering humiliating defeats in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing his mobilization order and rifts opening up among his top lieutenants. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles as he attends a meeting via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. With his room for maneuver narrowing quickly amid Russian military defeats in Ukraine, Putin has signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect the Russian gains in Ukraine - the harrowing rhetoric that shattered a mantra of stability he has repeated throughout his 22-year rule. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, April 24, 2022. Putin, who turned 70 on Friday, has found himself increasingly cornered with his army suffering humiliating defeats in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing his mobilization order and rifts opening up among his top lieutenants. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)
Putin’s path: from pledges of stability to nuclear threats