Russia's Involvement In Syrian War Intensifies As Putin Celebrates His Birthday Playing Hockey
The Syrian civil war rages on and Russia continues to ramp up its military presence in the region, conducting several airstrikes daily. In the midst of this serious situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to celebrate his 63rd birthday yesterday by hitting the ice and playing ice hockey with former NHL players and his closest buddies.
In fact, earlier in the afternoon, Putin was briefed on Russia’s air force operation in Syria by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. In the evening, the country watched as Russian television began to air dramatic and intense footage of Russian cruise missiles raining down upon various locations in Syria.
Meanwhile, Putin laced up his skates and took the ice at the Shayba arena in Sochi. So did Shoigu. The game was broadcast live on Russian television.
Spoiler alert: Putin’s team won the game and he scored seven out of 15 goals. Surprise.
In further celebration of Putin’s special day, his social and digital media fan club hosted an exhibition of portraits of Putin as several different real and fictional heroes, including Buddha, Jupiter and Father Christmas.
In Chechnya, officials hosted a soccer game with Italian veterans and displayed a banner covering the soccer field that read, “The best president. Happy birthday!”
Putin has never been one to shy away from the spotlight, and he enjoys showing off his “fitness” whenever possible, once famously posing shirtless on horseback. Russian state media loves to point out that Putin is an active man, and frequently reminds people that he is superior in karate and judo - having black belts in both. He also enjoys curling, badminton, bobsleigh - and arm wrestling. It would be interesting to see how many matches Putin has won.
With respect to the birthday hockey game, Russian television was thrilled to feature Putin’s dominant performance on the ice and emphasized that Putin only “mastered” the sport in the past few years.
Russian news agency Sputnik reported on Putin’s prowess during the hockey game and said his performance was “an indication that his strong physique shows no signs of weakening.”
Earlier this spring, a presidential spokesman declared that Putin’s fitness and exercise regime “exceed by far” the limits set under Soviet-era fitness programs.
If you ever want to see Putin demonstrating his physical perfection, it is likely that you will not have to wait long before another photo op comes along.