An evil man (3)
Putin has achieved the reverse of everything he’d intended. He hasn’t brought Ukraine into the Russian empire—he’s losing what little he already had, and that may well include Crimea. He hasn’t proved to the world what an indomitable, unconquerable military establishment he has — he’s shown that it’s an inept, disorganized, mismanaged, corrupt, failed organization. He hasn’t strengthened his economy through annexation; instead, he’s destroyed relationships with Russia, and he’s sent the Russian economy into an irreversible, growingly worse decline that’s going to take years, even decades to recover from. Instead of attracting more foreign investments, he’s driven what international businesses that were there away, 1,600 at last count. He’s lost his main export markets for oil and gas. Germany, the biggest buyer, no longer trusts Russia and is establishing permanent alternatives like many others. Oil and gas exports to Europe have fallen from 45 percent to 17 percent and will decline even more. The strongest sanctions ever imposed on a country and some of its citizens have been imposed.
He hasn’t weakened Nato — he’s strengthened it immeasurably, with the addition of two countries he’d tried to keep out, neutral Norway and Sweden. And his horrific drone attacks on civilians have led to Ukraine being considered for an accelerated track into Nato membership. He’s brought Ukraine into the European Union, divorcing the cultural links with Russia that used to exist. His actions have led Nato to a much higher level of defense spending, making military capability even stronger. And brought a higher level of camaraderie, working together — against Russia. The warm relationship between the two nations has been destroyed. Interviewed Ukrainians say they now hate Russians.
Putin is a pariah on the international stage. Whilst he remains, Russia will no longer have a voice in the world. Russia should be removed from the G7, and its veto right in the security council should be canceled. I’m not sure why this hasn’t happened, I’m sure the other six would wish it.
Putin has failed in his goal to restore Russia to great power; instead, he weakened it immeasurably. How he gets out of the ignominy, the humiliation, and the shame of this loss for a man of overweening ego is the overriding question today. If there’s a face-saving solution, I can’t see it. And, personally, I don’t believe he should have one. Sadly, real politics doesn’t work that way. If it comes to the negotiating table, and there are growing calls for that, some compromise will be called for. But I can’t see Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with the strength he has today, agreeing to any compromise that cedes any territory to Russia. It would take extremely difficult diplomacy to convince him to. Whilst Putin will dig his heels in on agreeing to relinquish the four territories he’s (falsely) claimed are now his, Zelenskyy will not concede on the reparations Russia must pay to rebuild the cities it has destroyed. Or avoid the international court for the war crimes its soldiers have done against obvious civilians-only targets, killing thousands. Winston Churchill, 81 years ago, was pressured to negotiate with Hitler after Pearl Harbor. He said, “no, this is the cause of freedom.” Zelenskyy, too, has stood firm, in the cause of freedom. So where will the face-saving be for Putin? Compounding the problem is that Putin can’t be trusted to abide by any agreement reached. Despite this, there are some who believe a diplomatic agreement might be the only way this war can end.
Putin should be forced out. But how? Best would be for the populace to revolt. But with their lack of information on what is really happening, this is, as yet, not a likely event. However, as the deaths of so many of the 300,000 conscripts added to the well over 200,000 dead professional soldiers, a revolt led by mothers and wives may come. The elite could revolt, too, but they’d need the generals on their side. There’s been little talk of that. The Russian soldiers should do what the German sailors did in World War I — refuse to sail. Hitler was forced to call an armistice. Soldiers refusing to fight can lead to the same conclusion.
The Economist summed it up well in announcing its “country of the year”: Ukraine. It had to be. The Economist praised Ukrainians for four outstanding qualities: Heroism, they weren’t crushed they stood and fought; ingenuity, they spotted weaknesses and exploited them; resilience, no water, electricity, the heat, but they found ways; inspiration, to Taiwan, to the peoples of tyrants, to the world. Their example in 2022, was second to none.
“The only off-ramp for Putin is to get out of Ukraine,” former secretary general of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
“Ukraine is alive and kicking,” Zelenskyy.
“Our enemies will all die,” a 9-year-old Ukrainian girl.
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.