Where does Putin go from here?

Where does Putin go from here?

March 1, 2022 0 By Rick

Morning has broken on day six of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and he still hasn’t reached his ultimate goal – crushing Ukraine militarily. The question on everyone’s lips is, where does Putin go from here? My alter-ego “rogue diplomat” believes Putin no longer cares about security guarantees or NATO and EU encroachment. It’s been a tough slog for the Russians, but he’s not likely to back down and lose face. He’ll continue to escalate and rachet up the crisis, preferring violence and death. And more is on its way! New satellite images show a 65-kilometer-long military convoy closing in on Kiev. Moreover, Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus, already a Russian vassal state for all practical purposes, has decided to allow Russian troops and bases in the country permanently and has abandoned its non-nuclear status, which means Russia can bring nuclear weapons back into the country. Nuclear threats aren’t unprecedented, however. The big question now is will he get away with this? “The track record for nuclear blackmail is not great,” according to Matthew Fuhrmann, co-author of the 2017 book “Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Diplomacy.” It’s been tried several times before, and all attempts have failed. 

The consequences
Does Putin fully understand the consequences that using nuclear weapons will bring upon him and his people? After all, threatening to use nukes doesn’t cost him anything. However, using them will cost him, Russia and Belarus everything. I don’t think he has thought this fully through. Has he lived in his little bubble so long that he’s lost touch with reality and no longer cares or both? Now that he has played his nuke card, which tools does he have left in his toolbox? Is this a tactical move or an act of a frustrated autocrat? Putin is a criminal and a bully who’s only concerned about his money and power, not the average Russian or even his country, despite all his patriotic hype about the soul of Russia. Putin didn’t need to occupy a sovereign nation. He’s not acting logically. This is all about his ego and his legacy. He’s obviously disappointed that his massive war machine has “underwhelmed” so far. That said, he still has plenty left to throw at Ukraine. It’s challenging to get accurate figures, but some 450 Russian soldiers have died to date, although estimates fluctuate wildly from source to source and day to day. According to one report, Russia’s elite Spetsnaz special operations forces were unable to capture a key airport after encountering fierce resistance from the Ukrainian troops defending it.

What happens now?
Sanctions are beginning to bite and eventually trickle down to the average Russian. Putin and his band of cronies and oligarchs will also eventually feel the pain. They may be defiant now but wait until they can no longer live and shop in the decadent West; can no longer access their luxury yachts and expensive mansions in the West; can no longer access the millions of dollars they’ve hidden abroad; and can no longer send their privileged children to Western schools and universities (again, I feel sort for the children). I’m especially pleased to see how the world has come together to bar Russians from competing in international sports events, although I feel sorry for the athletes themselves. It’s going to take time, however. When it comes to buying energy (oil and gas) from Russia, the EU can’t stop immediately. It’s much more complicated than that. For a better explanation than I could ever achieve, please read The Dangerous Energy Dance Between the EU and Russia, an excellent article penned by Dr. Paul Sullivan, who explains the complex relationship between the EU and Russia https://www.arabnews.com/node/2033606. As for my opening question, where does Putin go from here? I’m reminded of the 1985 cold-war song by Sting, “The Russians,” which contains a line that says, “I hope the Russians love their children, too.” I’m convinced they do, but will the people of Russia be able to rein in Putin by hook or crook and pull him back from the brink? The world can only hope.