Europe 1 with AFP 6:58 p.m., December 28, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented eight rings to ex-USSR leaders allied with Moscow.

These gifts immediately sparked different interpretations as references to "Lord of the Rings" abound since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"Conscious" reference to

Lord of the Rings

or simple innocent memory?

Vladimir Putin has gifted eight rings to ex-USSR leaders allied with Moscow, sparking different interpretations as references to Tolkien's work abound since the attack in Ukraine began.

After a summit in Saint Petersburg of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an alliance of several former Soviet republics, the Kremlin presented Tuesday nine gold rings bearing the inscription "Happy New Year 2023" and the emblem of the IEC.

Vladimir Putin compared to... Gollum

A ring was given to the eight foreign heads of state present (Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan), as well as to Vladimir Putin.

Commentators immediately drew a parallel with JRR Tolkien's book

The Lord of the Rings

, in which the master of evil, Sauron, offers nine rings to human rulers who then become his servants, the "Nazgûls".


- War in Ukraine: what to remember on the 308th day of the Russian invasion

Only difference, in the book, Sauron secretly creates an additional ring, the unique ring, which makes it possible to control all the others.

Kremlin critics, especially in Ukraine, have compared Vladimir Putin to Gollum, a figure corrupted by the One Ring, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Frodo, who decides to take the One Ring as a burden to destroy it.

The Ukrainian government compares Russia to "Mordor"

Since the Kremlin offensive in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government regularly compares Russia to "Mordor", the kingdom of Sauron, and Russian soldiers to "Orcs", the soldiers of Sauron.

On Telegram, Russian political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann believes that these nine rings are a visibly "conscious" "joke" of the Kremlin.

She notes that the CIS emblem on said rings is reminiscent of the "Eye of Sauron" shape depicted in the Hollywood adaptation of the book.

On Russian radio Kommersant FM, the less enthusiastic journalist Dmitri Drize points out that the idea of ​​a "community of the ring" between the nine leaders "is not really our subject given the current circumstances".

"Just a memory for the New Year"

Indeed, major differences divide some of the heads of state present, in particular the Armenian leaders Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani Ilham Aliev, opposed on the question of the separatist enclave of Nagorny Karabakh.

Dmitri Drize notes that only Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, one of the few categorical allies of Vladimir Putin in his offensive in Ukraine, was seen with the small ring on his finger.

Tuesday evening, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, wanted to cut short the interpretations.

"It's just a New Year's souvenir, there's nothing special about it," he said, adding that Vladimir Putin will not be wearing his gold ring.