Vladimir Putin gifts mysterious rings to eight foreign leaders

The Russian president presented eight rings to the leaders of the CIS and many saw it as a reference to Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”.

By Theo Sauvignet

The 9 heads of state of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) pose for a photo during the informal meeting of the organization held on December 26, 2022 in Saint Petersburg.

VLadimir Putin brought together the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) for the traditional annual meeting on December 26 in Saint Petersburg, and offered them a gift that marked the most discerning observers. The Russian leader organized the delivery to each head of state (including him) of a gold ring, on which is engraved the symbol of the CIS, “Happy New Year 2023” and “Russia” in Russian. This group of nine countries under strong political influence from Moscow includes Lukashenko’s Belarus (Russia’s staunchest ally) but also Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, all former Soviet republics.

Nine rings… The image quickly became, for many, an obvious reference to the saga Lord of the Rings and its fantasy universe, imagined by JRR Tolkien, a real cultural phenomenon since the 1960s which has given rise to cult adaptations in cinema and series. In his mythology, Tolkien involves an enemy of the free world, Sauron, who forges a magic ring for each of the nine kings of men and thus binds them to his destiny, by the force of his sorcery.

The creation of these rings is also the subject ofa series produced by Amazonruled apocryphal by members of Tolkien’s family, the first season of which was released in December 2022.


Taken up even by certain Ukrainian officials, the theory has something to smile about, but is part of a form of coherence: since the beginning of the conflict, the supporters of Ukraine like to compare the conflict to an epic war between Good and Evil that Tolkien could have written, Vladimir Putin being the perfect Sauron. Ukrainian fighters often refer to Russian soldiers as “Orcs”, those brutal servants of Evil in fantasy. Some have even created maps in the style of those of Tolkien, taking up the toponyms of his universe to adapt them to Eastern Europe.

The gift offers enough speculation for internet users, who ironically wonder if the Russian president will hold the unity of the CIS thanks to the black magic he has breathed into the rings, like. This is not the first time that magic has intervened in the conflict as Russian state media regularly compares the conflict to a war against demonic forces in Ukraine, with the Ukrainian president being portrayed as the antichrist, even Satan himself. even.

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The present, however, has fizzled since, according to observers, only Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of the CIS closest to Putin, carried it. It should be noted that most of the other rulers are Muslims, and their religion prohibits men from wearing gold jewelry. This facade of unity is not enough to hide the strong dissensions that animate the communitywhich does not have the status of an international organization: Armenia and Azerbaijan, for example, have been in an almost open border conflict since the Nagorno-Karabakh war which opposed the two countries in 2020. Ukraine was a member of the CIS until it left in 2018, following the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2015. Georgia also left the organization in 2008 after the invasion of part of its territory by the Russia.

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Vladimir Putin gifts mysterious rings to eight foreign leaders

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