Russian butchery continues in Ukraine because the criminally deluded Vladimir Putin cannot yet get it into his head that his beloved Soviet Union is gone. Kaput! Finito! Good riddance!
Like most authoritarians/dictators, Putin is corrupted by nostalgia for a glory that was anything but glorious. The Soviet Union was not the “Workers’ Paradise” it claimed to be for seven decades. Far from it. Despite some technological achievements, it was, in fact, mostly a vast cruel system of so-called “republics” ruled by a series of tyrants who bolstered their powers through propaganda, prisons, torture, murder, slave-labor camps, purposeful mass starvations (as in Ukraine, 1932-33), media suppression and the use of secret police and spies. Under the long reign of the paranoiac Josef Stalin, millions suffered, starved, were convicted falsely at “show trials” and were executed, imprisoned or exiled to labor camps.
Putin did have some successes in boosting economic output and did gain some popularity. He was elected to several terms as president, a total of 18 years. A “constitutional” referendum, self-promoted of course, could allow him to serve many more terms – a possible lifetime presidency.
Putin had also been a top official in the Soviet KGB, serving in East Germany. The KGB was an intelligence-gathering agency and a secret-police force feared for its use of fiendish torture.
When the Soviet Union, like a big fat Humpty Dumpty, fell to pieces in 1989, Putin was devastated, grieving the loss of his beloved paradise and vowing to restore its full glory somehow, someday. His grief, however, did not hinder his efforts to extract billions of rubles from the Russian economy. He and his kleptocratic cronies are dubbed the “Russian Mafia.”
To Putin’s grief was added a pervasive paranoia when several countries, former Soviet Union members (including Ukraine), formed fledgling Western-style democracies. Some expressed interest in joining the Western North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a European/American defense pact.
Putin’s hopes were buoyed when Donald Trump was elected president. In Europe for a NATO conference, Trump strutted in a big hall, aloof among the other NATO members. Head held high, jaw jutting out, he sneered at all of them in dismissive condescension.
Meanwhile, in Russia, a gleeful Putin was happy, his hopes confirmed that Trump would seriously weaken NATO. His glee increased when social/political divisions erupted in the United States, causing doubts about the electoral process and democracy itself. Dictators are true believers of that ancient dictum: Divide and Conquer. But they are most fearful of two things that threaten their power: free and fair elections, and freedom of the press.
Before and after the invasion of Ukraine, Putin and cronies loudly blamed NATO countries. They even resorted to the old-style Soviet tactic of propaganda churned out by state-controlled media. The Russian people were advised never to believe anything they might hear from Western news sources. That’s all fake news, they were told. Sound familiar?
Shakespeare’s kings are often brought low by “hubris,” the name for self-delusional pride. “King” Putin seems to be strutting on that stage, close to the edge, ready for a tumble.
One would think he’d have learned from the Soviet Union’s humiliating defeat in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He didn’t. Before his murderous attacks in Ukraine, he must have imagined the Russian people would rejoice, hailing him as a hero for restoring Soviet status.
Most in the world, thankfully, loudly condemn Putin’s actions. America and other countries imposed rigorous sanctions. The Ukrainians are courageously resisting the invasion. Can it be long before the Russians rise up against their wannabe hero and force him from power?
Putin will be brought low one way or another, sooner or later. His hubris, his delusions, make that fate all but certain. He has already placed himself in the ranks of the murderous scoundrels of history.
Someday, oh let us hope, Putin will become as kaput as his dearly departed Soviet Union.
Long live a free Ukraine!