“… He is blabbering.” This is how a Russian viewer commented on what had been billed as Putin’s historic speech. About 80 per cent of the comments were in the same vein.
That sounds about right. I followed the speech in real time, and that was the only real thing about it. (Having said that, as someone who is older than Putin, I take exception to the ‘Grandpa’ bit.)
Everything else was just like that chap said, drivel. Putin started out by reasserting his unwavering commitment to all human rights, specifically the right of nations to self-determination.
Hence he was happy to announce that the people of four Ukrainian provinces had spoken, through the expedient of referendums. They want to be part of Russia, and Vlad is happy to oblige – just at a time when the satanic Anglo-Saxons are trying to turn the whole world into their colony.
From that moment on, Vlad began to show signs of multiple personality disorder. All of a sudden he slipped into the persona of an African anti-colonial demagogue from the ‘60s, Patrice Lumumba perhaps, or Kwame Nkrumah.
The whole history of the West, he explained, is an uninterrupted chain of attempts to subjugate, loot and exploit the whole world, but especially Africa, Asia and – more to the point – Russia. I’m not sure how the Russians feel about their country being put side by side with Uganda and Mali, but that’s up to them.
Actually, continued Putin, it’s not just African countries that those vile Anglo-Saxons turned into their vassals. They are the masters of the Ukraine, to cite one random example.
And not just that. Even Western European countries are their slaves. The offices and homes of their leaders are all bugged, so the Anglos can monitor everything they say the better to control them.
And now they’ve blown up the Nord Stream pipelines to freeze Europeans into toeing the Anglo-Saxon line. Is there no limit to their perfidy?
For centuries now, they’ve been trying to enslave Russia, but their evil designs have been thwarted by the unmatched spirit of that holy nation.
He, Vlad, is proud that the Soviet Union led the global struggle against Anglo colonialism since the 1960s, and it’s because of that noble stance that Washington and London engineered the 1991 tragedy, the breakup of Stalin’s empire.
Having done that to the Soviet Union, they are now trying to do the same thing to Russia, to dismember her into a multitude of tiny Anglo-Saxon colonies.
To that end, they instigated the genocide of Russians in the Ukraine, only stopped by the heroism of Russian soldiers. (I haven’t done a textual analysis of the speech, but it was peppered with the word ‘genocide’, and the same culprits committed it each time.)
Some Russian warriors have, alas, died heroically, and Vlad suggested the noble assembly honour their memory with a minute’s silence. The noble assembly complied on cue.
In general, the whole atmosphere eerily resembled Communist Party congresses of my youth. Whenever the orating leader made a meaningful pause, an ovation broke out. If the last word before the pause had been ‘Russia’, everyone applauded standing up.
Now it’s the Anglos who are responsible for turning Ukrainian cities to rubble, continued Putin, which is what they did to Dresden, Hamburg and Cologne. Almost imperceptibly Vlad switched from the persona of an Idi Amin and into one of Dr Goebbels ranting in March, 1945, about the unprovoked horrors perpetrated on Germany by those Judaeo-Anglo-Saxons.
And let’s not forget that only America has so far used nuclear weapons, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, explained Vlad, set a precedent. That was the only oblique reference to the nuclear threat in the whole speech, which raised in my mind the odds in favour of his planning to use them.
In general, never once did Putin refer to the Ukraine as Russia’s adversary in the “special military operation”. The enemy is the West, especially its Anglophone part.
Yet Vlad is a sensible man. For all the evil of the Anglo-Saxons, he is ready to cease fire and start negotiations. Provided, of course, that the four new parts of Russia are off the table. There’s nothing to negotiate there: their people, at least 105 per cent of them, have stated – democratically! – their desire to become Russians. Case closed.
Those of his listeners who had remembered to take their meds must have gone through a mental translation exercise.
Vlad’s army is being routed, and even as he spoke the Ukrainians completed the encirclement of Lyman, a strategic centre in one of the areas that were in the Ukraine yesterday and are in Russia today. A large contingent of Russian troops is surrounded and will soon be routed.
A similar situation can be confidently predicted for the whole frontline, and in the near future. Hence Vlad’s offer.
The Ukraine, prodded by Nato, sues for peace, he declares victory and starts rebuilding. In a year or so, a new army a million or two strong will have been sufficiently trained and equipped to obliterate the Ukraine (Vlad’s commitment to the principle of national sovereignty bypasses that country.)
That’s not going to happen and he knows it. President Zelensky has stated in no uncertain terms that, if Russia conducted sham referendums in parts of the Ukraine, no negotiations will be possible – ever.
This whole thing would be funny if it weren’t so fraught.
One can have some nice clean fun at Putin’s expense, along the lines of the title above. But that deranged villain may well resort to nuclear weapons, for he increasingly has nothing else to resort to. Perhaps not tomorrow or next week, but he’ll almost certainly do that when the Ukrainian army gets close to the Russian border.
Tactical nukes wouldn’t have catastrophic consequences. Their TNT yield isn’t appreciably higher than that of some bunker-busting bombs the Russians dropped on Mariupol. And the half-life of their radiation is short. It would be deadly to anyone close to the epicentre, but neither the radius nor the duration of the contamination would be catastrophic.
Strategic weapons are a different horror story. Since Putin identifies his enemies as not Ukrainians but Anglo-Saxons, he may well decide to bang the big door on his way out. Après moi l’annihilation nucléaire, he may think.
The West can retaliate, but it can’t – or rather won’t – prevent. Many commentators hope that some forces inside the Kremlin may stop the med-less Grandpa from acting on his madness. Yet, considering that the career KGB officer Nikolay Patrushev is seen as the dove in the circle closest to Putin, one can’t easily see who would personify such mystical forces.
I still hope none of this will happen. However, the odds in favour of a nuclear attack must be upgraded from close to zero last week to perhaps 10 per cent strategic and 70 per cent tactical.
Whatever you may think of my bookmaking credentials, we must act fast. Expressions of grave concern and half-hearted supplies of arms to the Ukraine aren’t going to cut much ice any longer.