Putin hits strategic targets

According to the Russian government’s spokesman, the latest volley of missiles fired at Ukrainian cities targeted “decision-making centres”.

Truer words have never been spoken. After all, shoppers in malls do decide what to buy. Residents of apartment blocks decide whether to walk up or take the lift. Kindergarten pupils decide whether to play tag or hide and seek.

Hitting such strategically vital installations has to downgrade the Ukraine’s military capability no end. If not, people are likely to bandy about such words as “savagery”, “barbarity”, “fascism”, even “Third World War”, and that won’t do, will it?

Putin’s actions can only be properly understood in the context of the street gangs that self-admittedly shaped his personality (“I was a common street thug,” was Putin’s nostalgic recollection of his youth), with the KGB then adding the finishing touches.

His speeches abound in references to that formative experience: “You should always hit first”, “Don’t make threats – if you pull out a gun, shoot”, “We’ll whack them in the shithouse” and so on. More important, Putin’s actions spring from the same inspiration.

Having had to deal with Russian street thugs in my youth, I recognise the pattern of gradual escalation favoured by Putin. The Putins of my youth would approach a boy from a decent family and ask for a trifling amount of money, say 20 kopecks.

If the boy meekly handed the coin over, they’d ask for a rouble. And so forth, one demand at a time: “Can you spare these gloves?”, “You don’t really need this hat, do you?” If the boy demurred, then came the clincher: “Oh yeah? So what are you gonna do about it?”

Before the poor chap knew it, he became first the thugs’ mark, then their bitch. The rest of his youth would be spent in fear, sneaking in and out of the house, always looking over his shoulder, asking his parents to accompany him to school.

Braver souls knew there was only one way to respond to the first demand to prevent follow-ups: a punch on the nose. A brawl would ensue, and the mark would win even if he lost. Bullies seldom want to fight; they are out to intimidate. Faced with staunch resistance, they’ll look elsewhere.

Over the past 20 years, the street thug in the Kremlin has been escalating his banditry in incremental steps: Chechnya, Georgia, the Ukraine, Syria, the Ukraine again. In parallel, he’d commit acts of anti-Western terrorism that in the past would each have been seen as a casus belli: a cyber attack on US elections, the murder of Litvinenko with a nuclear weapon in London, the attack with military-grade chemicals in Salisbury.

And each time the thug asked the West, that boy from a good family, the same sacramental question he learned in his youth: “So what are you gonna do about it?”

In reply, Putin got expressions of concern, serious concern and grave concern, accompanied by reductions in defence budgets. Nothing to fear, in other words. Oh well, it was clear the boy was a wimp. That punch on the nose never came. Putin was emboldened.

Heroic Ukrainian soldiers, outnumbered and outgunned but never outfought, are paying for the West’s cowardice and stupidity with their blood. The same cost is exacted from peaceful Ukrainian civilians, who also have to throw in their murdered children, raped wives, destroyed and looted houses, devastated infrastructure, dwindling food supplies – everything that was their normal lives.

The recent blood-curdling attacks on the shopping mall in Kremenchug and civilian targets in Kiev were timed to coincide with the G7 conference in Bavaria and the Nato conference in Madrid. That was Putin’s way of asking that same lapidary question, hoping that the wimp would cower yet again.

The West has responded by increasing seven-fold, to 300,000, the number of troops on high alert in Europe, or rather stating the intention to do so at some time in the near future. Promises to increase arms supplies to the Ukraine were also reiterated, but with all the usual provisos: no rockets or artillery with enough range to hit Russian territory, no risk of humiliating Putin – and certainly nothing that could possibly provoke an attack on a Nato country.

At the same time, calls, nay demands, for Zelensky to agree to peace negotiations are becoming more persistent and shrill. Just give Putin Donetsk and Lugansk provinces, and he’ll be happy. A capitulation would be even better, but we dare not ask. Not yet anyway.

After all, for all his belligerent talk, Putin secretly yearns for peace. Doesn’t he? Of course, he does. After all, as a particularly cretinous hack opined in The Standard, if Putin continues the war, the electorate will punish him at the polls.

When I read that, I gasped. What [expletive deleted] electorate? What [expletive deleted] polls? But then I remembered who owns The Standard, and everything fell into place.

Allowing the Lebedevs to buy important British newspapers with KGB money was another example of a wimpish boy acting as a thug’s bitch. And ennobling Lebedev fils was tantamount to handing the thug the keys to the house, in this case of Lords.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the British Army, said yesterday that Britain is facing a new “1937 moment” and must be prepared to “fight and win” to prevent the spread of war in Europe. The reference to Hitler rolling on to a world war is clear enough, but surely Sir Patrick must remember that 1937 was followed by 1938.

The Anschluss of Austria in March, the Munich Treaty in September, occupation of Czechoslovakia later that month – all these followed the original 1937 moment. And, vindicating both chronology and the practice of street thuggery, 1938 was followed by 1939.

Sir Patrick hopes that Britain, and the West in general, strides through 2022 equipped with the valuable knowledge of the 1930s. He can rest assured that we have indeed learned all the right lessons, those in cowardly appeasement and futile attempts to pacify the street thug.

To be fair, we’ve added new chapters to the same book. Back then, nobody was cautioning against humiliating Herr Hitler, nor feeling certain that a war would spell an electoral disaster for the Nazis. Chamberlain and Daladier had the power of their craven convictions.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote George Santayana. This aphorism is often repeated but never properly understood.

I’m sure General Sanders knows the saying. So do Messrs Johnson, Macron, Scholz, Draghi and other polite boys from good families. So does the street thug in the Kremlin, who is asking “So what are you gonna do about it?”

If he likes the answer, he’ll stick the boys’ gloves in his pocket and reach for their hats. Are we going to punch him on the nose? Sir Patrick would doubtless like to. But the bigger boys won’t let him.

P.S. “Britain is broken,” writes Tony Blair, and for once I agree with that revolting man. He should know. After all, he did much of the breaking.

5 thoughts on “Putin hits strategic targets”

  1. Can you imagine Putin invading the United Kingdom and Ukraine leaders telling Johnson to just let him have Wales and Scotland? Or invading the United States and having Johnson urge Biden, just let him have the Eastern Seaboard? Ridiculous. Can’t they see how their own response is an insult to Ukrainians, themselves and their citizenry? The world is plagued with cowardly and stupid leaders. Perhaps we can expand on George Bernard Shaw’s famous saying with, “Those who can’t teach, govern.”

  2. There are so many problems , from Erdogan to Germany. But while Turkey may be a problem, when you have a country at the core of NATO such as Germany, behaving as an adjunct of Russia, what the heck is NATO supposed to do?
    German ‘idealism’ has been a problem since the end of the Cold War; I’m not sure what the rest of NATO can do (even ignoring that the French are going to automatically oppose the US):
    Germany’s ridiculous ICC was aimed directly at the Americans, and led directly to the debacle in Iraq. Saddam saw what happened to Charles Taylor, and because of the ICC, rejected asylum and instead emptied the prisons. A tactic copied by Assassin in 2011 btw.
    Germans HATE the US and will never miss a chance to damage the US, even if it involves endangering both themselves AND the rest of Europe. Where does one go from here?

    1. “A tactic copied by Assassin in 2011 btw.”

      Assad is the Assassin I believe. The bashi bazook Syrian volunteers reportedly have arrived Ukraine. Syrian volunteers for the Ukraine Conflict. Bashi bazook a venerable Islamic tradition of releasing convicts from prison to participate in a war as irregular fighters.

  3. It can be suggested quite reasonably that such attacks are a sign of desperation on the part of Vlad? Incensed at the slow pace of movement forward, the cost compared to the gain too little, he sorts to actions such as the missile attacks?

    Have you read of the new commander brought out of retirement supposedly to lead the forward Russian advance. Seen the images. Weighs 20 stone [280 pounds for American readers] and is a grotesque figure [literally so]. Vlad enraged and liable to do a whole lot of bad micro-managing as Hitler did?

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