Opinion: Did Xi just learn from Putin?

Photo by Sergei Bobylev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via The AP / Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, gestures while speaking to Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.

This was not the way Russia's Vladimir Putin wanted to look, for all the world to see on Thursday, when he walked into the bizarrely flowered and leafy conference room in Uzbekistan for his much-needed meeting with a deep-pocketed counterpart, China's Xi Jinping.

Putin, who has perfected the art and skill of walking into a summit with his dictator's swagger-strut that exudes confidence, must feel these days like he's walking with his telltale tail between his legs. After all, he has just had his worst-ever week -- at the end of what has so far been his worst-ever year. And all the world knows he has only himself to blame -- he started his war in Ukraine.

Putin's most humiliating week began Monday with Russia's president hearing his famously government-friendly TV talking heads telling ordinary Russians the actual truth about Russia's war in Ukraine.