Putin resurfaced today following wild rumors on March 13 after he failed to appear at some expected meeting.

Back from hiatus, Putin says he was Ready to Put Nuclear Weapons on Alert in Crimea Crisis.

Vladimir Putin was ready to put Russia’s nuclear weapons on alert last year during Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“We were ready to do this,” Mr Putin said in comments shown as part of a Russian state TV documentary on the one-year anniversary of Crimea’s annexation.

“[Crimea] is our historical territory. These are our Russian people there. We couldn’t abandon them and leave them in danger.”

Mr Putin said that Moscow had been prepared to use any military means necessary to defend Crimea against “the nationalists” in Kiev and their “puppet masters”: the US government.

He said Russia’s interests in Crimea and the surrounding region would always outstrip those of its western partners.

“You are where? Thousands kilometres away?” Mr Putin said, addressing the US in the broadcast. “We are right here. This is our land . . . We were ready for the worst possible scenario.”

Mr Putin, who has not appeared in public since March 5, was the star of Crimea: Return to the Motherland, a two-and-a-half-hour documentary that paid heavy homage to Mr Putin and his role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year.

Putin Missing Rumors

I had written what follows for a post on Saturday but considered the theories so ridiculous I did not bother. Now that Putin is back, let’s take a look at what was circulating.

Here’s a summation of rumors regarding the “missing” Putin taken from the Financial Times article Russia in a Spin as its Main Man Goes Missing.

Rumor 1: On Twitter, critics of the president have been tweeting morbid jokes and memes under the hashtag “Putin is dead”, while Russian bloggers and pundits pore over the official Kremlin website looking for discrepancies in Mr Putin’s alleged work schedule.

Rumor 2: Andrei Illarionov, a former adviser to Mr Putin now based in Washington, claimed in a blog post that Mr Putin had fallen victim to a palace coup and fled abroad. There was no link to the alleged blog.

Rumor 3: Konstantin Remchukov, an influential Moscow editor, alleged that the state-owned oil company Rosneft’s chairman Igor Sechin was about to get the boot, indicating that a big government shake-up was looming.

Rumor 4: In Switzerland, the news outlet Blitz.ch ran a report claiming that Alina Kabaeva, a former gymnast and Duma deputy who has been linked romantically with Mr Putin, had given birth to a child this week in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking region of Ticino, suggesting that the Russian president had taken time off for a “baby mission”.

Mr Putin was last seen in public on March 5 at a Moscow meeting with Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister. In subsequent days, the Kremlin cancelled a series of important engagements, including with the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Perhaps he was sick. Or tired. Or preparing a documentary on Crimea. If anyone in Washington is paying Illarionov for his advice, they are fools.

Small Price Theory

Those who propose the Crimea annexation cannot be allowed to stand, need to reconsider their “small price to pay” thesis because it now clearly involves nuclear war.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock