Robert A. Levine 2-7-22
How does the world deal with a madman who controls one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world and appears to be deranged and blatantly paranoid? Very carefully. But will that be enough. He has no compunctions at killing tens of thousands of people so why not millions? Obsessed with power, he wants to live in the past and reconstitute the Soviet Union and the Soviet Empire. He has said that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. Now it appears as if he is determined to change the course of history and return the world to where it was fifty years ago. And he won’t listen to reason from other world leaders and possibly to his own advisors. Putin says the Russians and Ukrainians are one nation, which means that he doesn’t care about killing his own people.
Does Putin believe any of the lies he is telling the Russian populace and world leaders about why he is invading Ukraine? Putin claims that there is no war between Russia and Ukraine but a special military operation. The Russian government has forbidden all the media and the opposition to Putin to label the fighting in Ukraine as a war. He says the Ukrainian government and military are neo-Nazis and are a danger to Russia. Can he really believe that when Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, is a Jew? And how can Ukraine be a threat to Russia when the latter has nuclear weapons which Ukraine returned to Russia when the nukes were stationed on Ukrainian soil. Putin also claims that Ukraine has always been a part of Russia and not an independent nation. Russia has four times the population of Ukraine as well, a much larger and stronger military, with the latest weapons and a far superior air force and number of tanks.
Putin says the Russians are not targeting civilians in Ukraine, though they are bombing civilian apartment houses and residences in the large cities and shutting down sources of water and electricity. They’ve also attacked the largest nuclear plant in Europe which could be disastrous if it exploded, with radiation many times that of Chernobyl. Whether Ukraine survives as an independent state or as a Russian vassal, rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure of the country with ravaged buildings and residences will cost hundreds of billions, if not trillions of Euros.
The videos of Putin sitting at one end of a very long table, with advisors, or cabinet members, or visitors at the other end is another manifestation of his paranoia. It may have been valid when Covid 19 was rampant, but is now unnecessary and shows Putin as being isolated from other human contact. Was he afflicted with Covid and did that change his cognitive function and mental acuity? Was it just his prolonged isolation and listening to his own propaganda? He has placed his nuclear weapons on a higher alert status, threatening their use if any nation interferes in his war with Ukraine. These are not the actions of a rational man.
But the only people who can stop Putin are the Russians themselves, though most of them seem to believe his propaganda regarding the war. The Russian people’s only access to news is through Russian state radio and television, though the young people get some information through the internet which is also inundated with government lies and propaganda. Some brave Russian souls have demonstrated against the war and thousands have been imprisoned because of their opposition.
The world’s economy is being hit hard by Putin’s misadventure. Not only are gas and oil supplies diminished, but important metals for technology like cobalt, titanium, nickel and lithium are all being squeezed. And even worse is the decrease in supplies of grain which usually come from Russia and Ukraine. Wheat, barley and corn are all in short supply with prices rising quickly. This will cause even worse inflation in the developed world and hunger and famine in Third World nations. Putin doesn’t care. He sees himself as returning Russia to its rightful place in the world’s power hierarchy and himself as one in a long line of strong Russian rulers. He wants to restore Russia’s empire and sphere of influence and abolish the rules based relationships between nations that became prevalent after World War II and atomic weapons. Putin may next go after other previous Soviet vassal states. How it will end is uncertain as it is difficult to read the mind of a madman.
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