Eye on Putin

As of this writing, diplomatic negotiations to resolve the savage Russian/Ukrainian invasion are on hold, and the world anxiously awaits signs that some compromise agreement can be reached that allows Putin a face-saving resolution permitting Russia’s self-absorbed dictator to cease his barbaric bombardment of Ukrainian civilians with the boast that his goals have been reached.

On March 17, 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Russia had not yet engaged in “any meaningful effort” to end the war through diplomacy, and Sec. Blinken expressed fears that Putin was preparing for Russian use of chemical and/ or biological weapons in the Ukraine that could have horrendous ramifications.

On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, NATO defense ministers met with their European Union and Nordic counterparts to better coordinate their increasing aid and support of the Ukraine’s formidable self-defense efforts, and NATO’s Secretary General announced an extraordinary emergency NATO Summit meeting for the following week.

On March 16th, Putin delivered on Russian national television a menacing speech comparing the West to Nazi Germany, insisting that NATO and the European Union were intent on destroying Russia. In his vitriolic presentation he also threatened his own citizens, lashing out against the large and growing number of Russians he accused of harboring pro-Western sympathies. His demand for “a natural and necessary self-purification” of Russian society and his warning that criticism of his war on Ukraine will be considered treasonous (with 15 year prison terms for those spreading information on the feeble Russian military performance) was designed to stop dissemination of news of the deaths in the Ukraine of four Russian generals and of many thousands of poorly prepared and equipped Russian troops.

Strictly controlled and monitored Russian television programing and news reportage has prevented the bulk of the Russian public from knowledge of Russia’s disastrously ineffective military involvement and of the unparalleled international admiration and support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on whose behalf demands have been made to re-open Nobel Peace Prize nominations for 2022, so that his name could be submitted.

Russian diplomats say privately that Russia wants NATO to block the Ukraine from becoming a member, and they call for an end to NATO military drills near Russia’s borders; and these seem achievable. The Russians also demand that NATO withdraw from Eastern Europe, which is highly unlikely.

To the stunned bewilderment of Russia’s leadership elite, what Putin has indeed accomplished

is the previously-unimaginable unification of the West and the all-but-total isolation of his nation from world involvement. Russia today is seen as a pariah state cut off from global financial systems and supply chains. At some point, previously silent Russian leaders may feel forced by

unfolding events to act dramatically in the obvious best interest of their solely troubled

nation.

What lies ahead is unknowable, as an increasing number of observers fear that Putin is not actually acting rationally. U.S. President Joe Biden has wisely encouraged the pro-Ukrainian involvement of a broad alliance of nations to respond to the Putin challenge, while avoiding the appearance of a direct US/Russian confrontation. He has made clear that this is a world problem. In and out of Russia, thoughtful observers are praying that wisdom will prevail and that catastrophe can be avoided.

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