It’s been a bad few weeks for Vladimir Putin.

First, a significant strategic defeat in Ukraine, after a stunning counteroffensive that dealt a blow to the Kremlin’s ambitions in the east. Then, what was supposed to be a gathering of likeminded leaders in Uzbekistan mostly served to remind him of his weakened status, as the Russian president was given short shrift by China and then chided by India. Meanwhile, in a neighborhood where Moscow is supposedly security guarantor, there has been fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and clashes continue on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Putin is under pressure at home, too, with criticism from surprising corners. On Sunday, Alla Pugacheva, a much-loved pop singer who has been a household name for Russians for decades, posted a message criticizing "illusory aims” in Ukraine that have made Russia "a pariah” that weighs "heavily on the lives of its citizens.” On the other side, nationalists are furious at inept military leadership, forcing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov to warn that criticism would be fine — until it wasn’t: "The line is extremely thin. One should be very careful here.”