Vladimir Putin’s solution to the Ukraine question: complete elimination

Saturday’s most dramatic news did not stem from the prime minister’s visit to the Russian president, interesting in itself when it was. They touched on something Vladimir Putin had said a few hours earlier. If Ukrainian leaders “continue to do what they do,” it means resisting Russia’s invasion, Putin said, the Ukrainian state will cease to exist.

According to the New York Times, White House officials are debating among themselves whether Putin’s continued extremism is linked to “pushing him to the wall,” and could lead him to extend the war to “beyond Ukraine’s borders.”

American intelligence is now engaged in a clinical analysis of the Russian president. Roughly speaking, the Americans are asking themselves and others if Putin has gone mad, perhaps even because of his very long isolation in the days of the Corona. They have of course no convincing answer.

Crazy or not, Vladimir Putin seems to tend to take lightly the value of people, who he thinks are enemies. For example, he did not notice the Ukrainians when he decided to conquer Ukraine.

He did not notice Volodymyr Zalansky when he mocked him, at a joint press conference with French President Macron, in early February. He spoke of him, or to him, as a man of his kind speaks to a woman at his head, “Get used to it, beautiful, get used to it.” His courtiers rolled with laughter.

Putin also did not notice his critics in the West. He assumed he had found the way to their hearts – through their pockets. He put the former German chancellor at the head of one oil company, appointed the board of directors of a giant gas company, and entrusted a gas pipeline project; He attached the former French prime minister to the board of directors of an oil company; He danced at the wedding of the Austrian Foreign Minister; His oligarchs have contributed to the two major parties in Britain; He forged personal relations with the leaders of the radical right in France and Italy; He offered financial favors to Hungary and the Czech Republic.

To his advisers he repeated, more or less, Hitler’s indication on the eve of his invasion of Poland, in the summer of 1939, “I saw my enemies (in Western democracies), and they are worms.”

“The Heroic Cities”

Even if there is no point in talking about “Putin’s failure,” because the military cap necessarily leans in his favor, it can certainly be argued that the Russian president has encountered a wall of reality that exceeds his expectations.

I look back at a series of photographs, coming from two small towns at the northern entrances of Kyiv. In one of them, Bocha, I have a special interest, because on the narrow basement floor of one of her houses, relatives have been hiding for a week. The second city is Irpin. These two were nothing but Kyiv’s sleeping cities, something of a Yavneh relative to Tel Aviv, with a relaxed middle class and a decent quality of life.

Entire streets of Bocha and Irpin have been in ruins in recent days. Sooty skeletons of tanks and Russian armored vehicles strewn in their streets. They are stuck in the throat of the huge Russian column, which has been crawling from the Belarusian border towards the Ukrainian capital for a week. His stagnation is astonishing to foreign observers. They are also surprised by what they think is the lack of Ukrainian attempt to attack the column.

But they may not have been watching Bocha and Irpin. The column can not move as long as the Ukrainians block its path. The Soviets liked to tie crowns, certainly justified, to the “heroic cities” of World War II, and awarded 13 of them decorations of honor and glory. Kyiv, by the way, was one of the heroines. There are now in Ukraine a series of cities and towns, which will one day be worthy of such honors.

“Strengthen the defense”

Although few think that the Ukrainian army has a real chance, here it manages to place barriers to the invading corps. The value of these barriers is primarily political. They are sending a message of national power, a particularly important matter in a country whose invasion is based, among other things, on the claim that there is no justification for its existence. This message of power is of course intended for the ears of the Ukrainians, but also for the ears of the outside world.

As we wrote here last week, each additional day of fighting increases the pressure on the West to tighten the sanctions regime against Russia, and to find ways to help Ukraine extend its resistance. Ukraine is indeed very disappointed with NATO’s refusal to declare its demilitarization, in order to ground the Russian Air Force.

But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday spoke of the need to “strengthen Ukraine’s defensive capacity”. NATO is now discussing the possibility that Poland will be allowed to transfer some of its air force planes to Ukraine. The supply of shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles is continuing with increasing intensity. .

Partial list of spaces

Putin, who has taken it easy on his Ukrainian opponents and critics in the West, is now learning that they are not “worms,” ​​after all.

The Ukrainian army was in no hurry to lay down its arms, and the Russians who were captured, and shown in Ukrainian video, are quite reminiscent of their predecessors, who failed in the wars in Afghanistan (1989-1980) and Chechnya I (1996-1995). The number of Russian casualties in Ukraine is large enough to force the Russian Ministry of Defense to publish their numbers during the first week (almost 500; Ukrainians claim the number is 20 times greater).

Israelis will be able to recall the partial list of casualties that the IDF saw needed to publish in the first weekend of the Yom Kippur War. The list was long enough (656, including one general) to impose a heavy mourning. , But the need to put an end to the rumors that have been circulating about thousands of dead (and dead). It seems that rumors have also led the Russian authorities to publish an interim list.

What did the governor say?

Likewise, Putin must have expected sanctions. We hear again and again the term “Putin Fortress”, to describe its economic preparations for war. Surprising how partial the fortifications of this fort were. It is quite clear that Putin did not take into account the West’s willingness to neutralize the central bank by freezing its foreign exchange reserves. The governor of the Russian bank appeared last weekend in an internal broadcast, which reached YouTube, in which she called on the bank’s employees to calm down, not to argue about politics, and to mobilize vigorously for work, in order to prevent a “catastrophe”; Not exactly an expression of self-confidence.

The hunt for the oligarchs’ assets does not harm Russia’s economy as such, but it undermines the logic of the capitalist regime, which has ruled Russia for 30 years. Will the surprising reservations from the war expressed by Mikhail Friedman (oligarch No. 11 on the Forbes list), Roman Abramovich (12) and Oleg Dripaska (34) affect Putin (oligarch No. 2 on the same list)? Doubt.

But thinning the ranks of his loyalists reduces the number of people who carry out his wishes. Even an almighty dictator, certainly in the land of eleven time zones, needs help. He had better ask her for people who dare to tell him the truth, at least from time to time.

Like any dictator, Putin’s interest in uncomfortable truths diminishes. Russian television broadcast a rather astonishing situation on the eve of the war, in which Putin was seen rudely and sarcastically reprimanded by his secret police, for the latter refused to express unequivocal support for the idea of ​​invasion. The message was quite clear, and it came to light once again in this class, where the defense minister and chief of staff, at the very far end of the longest table in the world, nodded at the president’s order to put Russia’s nuclear weapons on high alert over “hostile” statements by Nate leaders. and.

The impression is that everyone is nodding in the dictator’s court, always and unconditionally. And the dictator is accustomed to order, to rebuke, and to preach, even if his interlocutors do not belong to his court; Even if they are the President of France, or the Chancellor of Germany, or the Prime Minister of Israel or, God forbid, the President of Ukraine.

Cancellation of land

On Saturday, Putin left his secluded mansion for a short while and headed to the Aeroflot National Airlines office in Moscow. He was photographed surrounded by flight attendants, who were not asked to sit at the far end of a long table. He then submitted a report on the state of ‘special military action’ in Ukraine, which the whole world except him calls a war, or invasion.

He declared there that the sanctions on Russia were “the same as a declaration of war,” though “thank God, things did not come to that.” He then spoke, with the usual sarcasm, of the “liberal intelligence,” which criticizes Russia’s actions while “neo-Nazis seize people on the streets of Ukraine, and shoot them.” Ukraine and the neo-Nazis again. But this time he added a stern warning. If Ukrainian leaders “continue to do what they do, they risk losing the Ukrainian state.” If that happens, he said, “the blame will fall on their shoulders.”

In this statement Putin came closer to defining the ultimate goal of the war: to abolish the very existence of Ukraine. That is, not to overthrow the government; Not to achieve “military demilitarization”, whatever that means; Not to ensure that Ukraine stays out of NATO; not to get its consent to the partition of the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed, and the eastern regions, which it recognized as “independent”; From the map.It would be a punishment for daring to oppose the invading army.

The abolition of a country of 44 million, the second largest in Europe (after Russia), larger than France and Germany, is an act that has been tried very rarely in modern history, and only in its darkest periods. In the last week so many kinds of taboos have been removed in international relations that we may be getting used to it.

By Editor

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