Putting Putin in his place: West has no choice but to consolidate

Putting Putin in his place: West has no choice but to consolidate

The Russian dictator must not only be contained, but must finally be defeated. If the West does not realize this, it will lose

Recently, Bloomberg published an article with rather alarming signals for Ukraine. In particular, the journalists of the publication point out that this summer Putin was afraid to stick his nose outside of Russia: He had to cancel his trip to the BRICS summit in South Africa because he was afraid of being arrested on charges of the International Criminal Court. And now he has solemnly visited the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the two largest states of the Persian Gulf, which, by the way, are longtime partners of the United States.

In addition, the article also refers to the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to the OSCE conference in North Macedonia. Last year, the Ribbentrop of the 21st Century was banned from participating in a similar event held in Poland.

However, the weakening of diplomatic isolation is not the only good news for the aggressor country. Despite Western sanctions designed to suppress the Russian economy, it is gradually recovering and preparing for a long war. Next year, the Kremlin intends to spend almost a third of all budget expenditures on the maintenance of the army and military-industrial complex.

Against this background, the US Congress is still blocking the allocation of US aid to Ukraine, and in Europe, in addition to Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, the number of countries where parties with a "pro-Russian flavor" are winning elections is growing, such as in Slovakia and the Netherlands.

The outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has drawn the world's attention to the Middle East, also played in Russia's favor.

It may soon erupt in South America, in Guyana, where the Kremlin's puppet, Venezuelan President Maduro, in the spirit of his patron Putin, has made absolutely inadequate and criminal territorial claims.

And Moldova is also at risk, which Lavrov threatened to call "the next victim of a hybrid war."

The fact that Putin wants more conflicts in the world, wants to sow discord and chaos wherever possible to divert attention from Ukraine is well known. The main question here is: how successful are his efforts, what is the expected reaction of the West, are they ready for powerful decisions, are they able to finally put the Russian Hitler in his place?

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not entirely pleasant.

The West needs to consolidate, but there are no powerful leaders of the level of de Gaulle, Roosevelt or Churchill

Diplomat Vadym Triukhan, in his commentary to Ukrinform, first of all, draws attention to the fact that war criminal No. 1 Putin did not become the Person of the Year in 2023 according to Time magazine, which, as you know, included him in the shortlist of candidates. But he could easily have been, like Hitler in 1938 or Stalin in 1942. And it would have been objective.

"As horrible and cynical as it may sound... Because, in fact, this year he is slowly but steadily getting his way. Putin has felt the drive from the fact that he is giving the whole world nightmares. Not only Ukraine, but also Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and he has even reached Latin America," says Mr. Triukhan.

Why does he succeed? The answer is on the surface: The West has become so relaxed after the Cold War that it has become completely incapable of making bold and strong decisions.

"Ukraine is trying to reverse the fatal course of history, bleeding to death, but not giving up in its confrontation with Putin's terrorist state. Some military and financial support, which so far has helped us survive, is being provided by the democratic camp. However, it is clearly insufficient for a long-term confrontation with today's Russia, let alone inflicting a military defeat on it. So, everything is logical. Putin is a real "man of the year," a demon, the personification of evil, who is ready to destroy everyone and everything on planet Earth, as well as the planet itself, to satisfy his twisted fantasies," the expert emphasizes. "Human history has seen bloody maniacs with absolute power in their states, cannibals, etc. However, never before has civilization stood on the edge of the abyss because of the insanity of one particular person, who, moreover, infected tens of millions of his "tribesmen" with his insanity.

Putin is a verdict on the current political leaders and political elites in the democratic countries of the world.

"Except for Ukraine, of course, which will fight for its freedom to the last bullet. No matter what and no matter who," the diplomat emphasized.

The West, after all, has no choice but to consolidate.

"Because if the West does not help Ukraine and misses at least one successful 'special operation' - whether by Venezuela, Hamas, or someone else - then everything will fall apart like a house of cards," the expert believes.

According to Vadym Triukhan, we are currently facing a situation where the West lacks powerful leaders like Charles de Gaulle, Franklin Roosevelt, or Winston Churchill who could consolidate political elites in their own country and in the allied countries.

"Joe Biden, in fact, did everything he could. But it was clear that sooner or later, he would encounter resistance. In fact, that's exactly what happened - from the same Trumpist Republicans," our interlocutor states.

Therefore, the situation in which the world finds itself is worrisome.

"If we fail to pass a bill in Congress by the end of this year, which, among other things, includes assistance to Ukraine, our state and our army will experience a serious shortage of ammunition to wage a defensive war with Russia, not to mention an offensive," Mr. Triukhan added.

The West, led by the United States, is at a crossroads: either a decisive response to the global evil or a loss, a collapse. This means a victory for authoritarianism.

"I think that 2024 will be a decisive year in this regard: either the West will consolidate and provide our country with the necessary resources to enable us to inflict a military defeat on Russia, or we will witness erosion, "treaty" and serious losses in the democratic world," the diplomat emphasizes.

And Ukraine is the most vulnerable here, as it stands on the border of two worlds - democratic and authoritarian.

"I think that until there is a breakthrough somewhere directly in the Euro-Atlantic world, our Western partners will continue to maneuver, trying to cool the dust of Putin and his satellites/allies. But as soon as the racists cause some significant trouble somewhere in Europe, for example, in Estonia or Finland, NATO will wake up and be forced to go to an open war of destruction with Russia," Vadym Triukhan says.

Unfortunately, most of the population of the Euro-Atlantic bloc does not yet fully understand the reality of the new international relations

Political analyst Oleh Posternak believes that despite Putin's logical and objective interest in using new centers and hotbeds of confrontation to multiply conflict and disperse the collective West's attention, the current artificial entity in the form of Putin's Russia is not the USSR of the Cold War - neither in terms of economic potential, nor in terms of geopolitical influence, nor in terms of the ability to manipulate "third countries."

"However, Russia is capable of conducting influence operations and information wars to stir up controversy, pressing on the nerve cells of interstate or internal tension on different continents through a network of agents, financial instruments, bought bloggers, cyber campaigns, etc.", the expert states.

All of this is aimed at obtaining the effects Russia needs, but it does not necessarily guarantee them.

"Putin's calculation is primitively simple: we are trying to intervene in a hybrid way, if it works, good, and if it doesn't work, so be it," Mr. Posternak added.

The expert continues that Western countries are indeed "torn" between new conflict zones. The main thing here is how this affects the public opinion of Western countries, which should come to understand the threat of local continental conflicts escalating into a global war.

"According to Russia's plan, this should lead to pressure on national governments to seek a suspension of the Russian-Ukrainian war on the Kremlin's terms. However, this may have the opposite effect: the population of Western countries will "wake up" and consciously choose to strengthen their own defense and fully support Ukraine. After all, the options for a war between Russia and NATO no longer seem so fantastic," the political scientist emphasizes.

Of course, the majority of the population of the Euro-Atlantic bloc countries does not yet fully understand the reality of the new international relations.

"They do not understand this, relying on localization of conflicts, tactics of extinguishing the fire with palliative and metered actions. At the same time, Putin is increasing the military budget many times over, turning the country towards militarization, and has been talking about a conflict with the collective West throughout 2023. Isn't it obvious that under certain circumstances he is preparing for a clash with NATO?  Just as the PRC is preparing for a military "unification" with Taiwan, and the Arab world is preparing for revenge against Israel for the Gaza operation," emphasizes Oleh Posternak.

Western politicians must finally realize that it will be better for them if Russia loses than if Russia cannot lose

"In fact, the Russians are guided by their usual tactics in this war against Ukraine. Because when the whole world rallies around our country and helps us more or less, it is important for Russia to divert attention from us by igniting new sources of tension on the globe. But I think that no matter what the Kremlin is planning, the democratic world will not back down and will continue to support us. Although, in fact, this process is becoming more and more difficult every time," says Volodymyr Ohryzko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in 2007-2009.

In particular, he refers to the United States.

"Unfortunately, domestic political events in the United States are taking precedence over global events, over security challenges that affect the entire democratic world," the diplomat says, "But let's hope that common sense will prevail and that America, which is the leader of the democratic world, will continue to provide our country with the much-needed assistance in confronting Russia."

However, there is another question: Are the West ready for powerful decisions, are they able to finally put the Russian dictator in his place? Mr. Ohryzko has no such confidence.

"Although basic logic suggests that it simply cannot be otherwise. If the United States and the West as a whole are unable to respond to these challenges, then it will lose. In fact, Joe Biden recently stated this directly: "If Putin takes over Ukraine, he will not stop there. Russia will be able to attack other U.S. allies, including those in NATO. In this case, we will have American troops fighting against Russian troops." The US president's statement is aimed primarily at those Republicans who block aid to Ukraine, but it also signals to the entire democratic world that Ukraine's defeat is basically impossible. Because then the world will be on the verge of a real World War III," emphasizes Volodymyr Ohryzko.

Therefore, in his opinion, despite the current slowdown in decision-making, the West is gaining an understanding that it is no longer possible to coexist with such a Russia in the old way, that Russia poses a direct threat to the entire civilized world.

"Therefore, Russia needs not only to be contained but also defeated. I think that gradually this idea will settle in the minds of our Western partners. Because, unfortunately, there is no determination to make Russia lose this war. So this is a topic that we should keep at the highest level of attention. Western politicians must realize that they need Russia to lose, not a situation where Russia does not lose," the diplomat emphasized.

The West is able to put Putin's Russia in its place immediately, but it is afraid to do so

"We must recognize the fact: Putin is currently succeeding in distracting the West from helping Ukraine. The war in Israel, the blocking of aid to Ukraine in the US Senate, the blocking of the Ukrainian border in Poland and Slovakia, Hungary's constant demarches... The longer the war in Ukraine lasts, the more opportunities the Kremlin will have to conduct such sabotage," believes political expert Yevhen Savisko.

However, the West does not understand this. And even if they do, the expert says, they cannot do anything about it immediately.

"The reason is simple. In democratic countries, the mechanism for coordinating actions is too complicated and therefore time-consuming. In totalitarian regimes, such as Russia, there is no such thing. There, as the tsar ordered, so it will be," the expert emphasizes.

Only now is the reform of the structure and mechanisms of voting in the EU beginning (for more details, see our article). It is hard to even imagine how long it will take. NATO is also just beginning to reform and adapt its structures and algorithms to a possible war with Russia.

"Purely theoretically and even practically, the West is capable of putting Putin's Russia in its place immediately, but it does not want to do so. After all, they are still afraid of the unpredictable consequences of the collapse of the Russian empire," says Yevhen Savisko.

As much as we would like it, it is extremely unlikely that the West will finally be able to put Putin in his place

International expert Maksym Yali emphasizes that when talking about the above conflicts - existing and potential - we should not think that Putin alone is behind them.

"We should not exaggerate Putin's capabilities. Although he certainly benefits from more conflicts in the world. There are a number of processes that go on in parallel, but which also divert attention from the Russian-Ukrainian war. For example, the domestic political situation in the United States. Congress still cannot pass a bill that includes, among other things, assistance to our country. And the reason for this is not Putin, but rather domestic political infighting," the expert says.

Nevertheless, Hamas' attack on Israel, the risks of war in Guyana, and unambiguous hints toward Moldova are all pieces of the same puzzle.

"This is a challenge from Russia, an attempt to destroy the existing world order," Mr. Yali says. "In 2008, when Russia attacked Georgia, the West actually "betrayed" Georgia. Then the Russian Federation launched an aggression against Ukraine. It annexed Crimea."

Ukraine fought back on its own, asking the world for military assistance. But US President Obama banned the transfer of lethal weapons to us. This finally gave Putin confidence that no one would react to the outbreak of hostilities in Donbas. And then it was 24.02.22... Yes, the West changed then, but still not fundamentally. It began to give us weapons, but not enough and often too late. It imposed sanctions on Russia, which Russia quickly learned to circumvent.

"Unfortunately, other actors, such as Iran, Venezuela, and others like them, saw the West's weakness. They watched for a year and a half, and then began to act, to realize their ambitions, choosing the right moment to do so, when the United States was mired in a domestic political crisis. Hamas has attacked Israel, and Maduro wants to organize his own "Crimean War" in Guyana," the expert emphasizes.

Unfortunately, Maksym Yali also does not expect any serious reaction from the West.

"As much as we would like it, it is unlikely that Putin will be put in his place. After all, 2024 will be marked by turbulence. We will have elections in the United States and in many European countries. The world will be shaken, and the world may not have time for Putin," the political scientist warns.

...While the West hesitates, Russia continues its terror: on the night of December 11, Russia once again attacked Ukraine, this time using 18 drones and 8 ballistic missiles. All targets were destroyed by Ukrainian air defense.

The effectiveness of our air defense proves that the Armed Forces  of Ukraine are using the capabilities of Western weapons to the fullest.

However, Russian factories continue to produce drones and missiles to kill civilian Ukrainians day and night. Therefore, we need more modern means of various types to protect the sky. To win the war.

Ukraine's resilience is a matter of security and stability not only for Europe but for the whole world.

Myroslav Liskovych. Kyiv

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