Analysis: Putin is wreaking havoc in Ukraine and no one can stop him

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The Fate of Ukraine makes it clear that even 20 years into the 21st century and despite the world’s wishes to learn from history, a lone autocrat who ruthlessly fashioned a political system to eliminate dissent and the reality she itself has the power to cause unfathomable loss of life and misery.

Putin’s apparent willingness to bomb Ukraine into subjugation and the clearly wanton targeting of innocent civilians who he claims are Russian relatives means the humanitarian catastrophe is likely just beginning. More than a million refugees have already fled their homes, according to the United Nations. Millions more will likely follow – as family lives, jobs and communities are shattered. That’s without the thousands of civilians who are sure to die in a protracted Russian blitzkrieg.

In a Kiev suburb on Sunday, two young children and two adults were wiped out by Russian shelling as they tried to flee. “A family died…before my eyes,” said Irpin mayor Oleksandr Markushyn. Meanwhile, the dead lay unburied in the smoldering wreckage of Kharkiv – a city of 1.5 million people, which was under a prolonged bombardment that served as a warning of Kiev’s likely fate. Other Ukrainians have been trapped by shocking Russian bombings of humanitarian corridors. Photos and videos of Ukrainian men putting their families on evacuation trains and going into battle rekindle the trauma of a continent’s bloody history.

If the harrowing video from Ukraine were in black and white, it would be easy to confuse it with the historical newsreels of World War II, the last time such scenes of devastation and cruelty were inflicted by a sovereign nation on another in Europe.

And it all stems from the mind of a Russian president seemingly driven by his own historical scars as a KGB officer in East Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall. Putin, seeking to redraw the map of post-Cold War Europe, has now crafted the counterpoint to those joyful scenes three decades later in his relentless bombardments intended to revive Russia as a superpower.

Ukraine’s future looks increasingly bleak

The events of a bloody weekend underscore that despite the impressive escalation of Western sanctions strangling the Russian economy and the courage to stand up to Ukrainian civilians and their president’s pleas, the future of the Ukraine is grim, with Putin having raised questions about its continued existence as a nation-state.

Massive Western sanctions could eventually stir up enough opposition inside Russia, where citizens are struggling in a collapsing economy, to topple Putin. Arms shipments to Ukraine from the West will certainly increase the cost to Moscow’s forces of invasion and eventual occupation.

But the reality that the West will not intervene directly to avoid triggering an escalation with Russia that could trigger a nuclear exchange gives Putin an advantage and compounds the Ukrainian tragedy. Sooner or later, the outside world may come face to face with a massacre it was powerless to prevent. This dire possibility was hinted at in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s latest heartbreaking plea for help on Sunday.

“We are humans, and it is your humanitarian duty to protect us, to protect civilians, and you can do that,” Zelensky told the world.

“If you don’t, if at least you don’t give us planes to defend ourselves with, the only conclusion remains – you also want us to be killed very slowly.”

Putin continues to dictate events

As the United States discusses with Poland a plan to send its Russian-made fighter jets to Ukraine and there is debate over a full embargo on Russian oil exports, the West is on the point of reaching the limit of what can be done without triggering a direct conflict with Putin. Thus, the American messages begin to underline the extent of what has already been done to help. This includes Western sanctions that have thrust Russia’s economy back into a Soviet-era dark age and the anti-tank and anti-aircraft rocket arsenals dumped in Ukraine in the West’s new proxy war with Russia.
As Americans cursed Putin over the weekend with gasoline well over $4 a gallon in some states due to an oil market rocked by the invasion, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of ” CNN’s State of the Union” that the savagery of the Russian leader always dictated events.
Stocks fall as oil soars after US and allies consider banning Russian oil

“Vladimir Putin has, unfortunately, the ability – with the manpower he has in Ukraine and the overreach he has – the ability to continue to crush things, against incredibly resilient and brave Ukrainians,” he said. he told Jake Tapper.

Speaking from Moldova, a non-NATO US ally fearful of being next in Putin’s line of fire, Blinken appears to envision a post-invasion future in which a Western-backed Ukrainian resistance could put a heavy toll on Putin’s troops.

“I think we have to be ready for this to last for a while. But winning a battle doesn’t mean winning the war. Taking a city doesn’t mean taking the hearts and minds of the Ukrainian people,” he said. Blinken said. “On the contrary, he is destined to lose. The Ukrainian people have demonstrated that they will not allow themselves to be subjugated by Vladimir Putin or by Russia.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also pointed to the severity of Western sanctions, but signaled that Zelensky’s plea for immediate EU membership was unlikely to be accelerated.

“No one doubts that this brave Ukrainian people and the exceptional leadership of President Zelensky, all fighting for our common values, belong to our European family,” von der Leyen told Tapper. “And with the application, President Zelensky has started a process. This process will take some time.”

Putin’s Personal Crusade

The way Putin single-handedly pushed his country into war, crushed internal dissent and berated seemingly puzzled national security aides on TV underscored just how much the war in Ukraine is a personal crusade.

His haphazard and ahistorical speeches on the war – including his false claims that he is trying to de-nazify Ukraine – have raised concerns about whether a leader once seen as a ruthless and cool broker of Russia’s national interests is slipped into a parallel mental reality. That, along with his nuclear threats, have raised concerns about how far a desperate Russian leader, who has effectively made his own political survival dependent on a war that is turning into a quagmire, might go.

“He is now engaged in a conflict where either he is going to have a costly military victory, followed by a costly occupation that he cannot afford, or he is going to get caught in a long-term military quagmire, at the same time that he’s facing a second front, which is a plummeting economy in his own country,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said on “State of the Union.”

“So the combination of those two things, I think, puts us in a very dangerous position. And that’s that he’s going to have to do something, an escalation, an amplification of this crisis, in order to restore the strategic balance. , in his view, with the West. And I’m worried about what those things might be.

So far, in the two and a half weeks since the invasion, Putin has only escalated, despite a calm response from the West to his nuclear provocations. It remains unclear how he would react to the possibility of Poland or Romania supplying fighter jets to Ukraine – a step that appears to bring two ex-Warsaw Pact nations closer to indirect conflict with Russia. .

The toll of the invasion, however, shows that whatever pain the new Western measures might inflict, they are unlikely to stop Putin from playing out his obsession that Ukraine should never be allowed to join. the West – even if that means blasting it and its people to pieces.

As Zelensky said in a new video message on Sunday evening, “the audacity of the aggressor is a clear signal to the West that the sanctions imposed on Russia are not enough.”

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