He is alone in his private residence. He is standing by the window, looking out onto a beautiful forest covered with snow.
He has Ukraine surrounded by troops in the East, South East and in the north in Belarus. He knows the Ukrainians won’t be able to stop him, once he gives the order to invade.
He has enjoyed enormously being in the headlines, day after day, everyone talking about him. How will the world ever forget him? They cannot. He is now part of history. Forever. Immortal.
He rubs his chest lightly as he smiles.
He looks back at his desk, and the phone on it. He needs only to reach over, pick it up and order that his troops march into Ukraine. Just that, no more than that, and thousands of lives will cease to exist. Unless, of course, they all fall to their knees and beg for mercy.
What a life he has lived. So privileged.
Thinking to himself, he says, there is something so special about having so much power over people. So much power over the hapless Europeans who start shaking the moment he talks about holding back his supply of gas to them.
And he smiles when he thinks of his power to deceive, to persuade, to pressure. What talent!
‘Yes, I want to rebuild the Soviet Union. I want to have Russia be the number one power in the world. And I have the guns, the supersonic missiles that can get to Washington in 5 minutes. I have them.’
‘Sure they will retaliate, but I’m convinced my weapons are better. My resolve greater. My willingness to destroy unmatched.’
‘I have been able to bully others all my life. No one, no one at all, has bullied me back.’
And now he thinks of how he has no trouble sleeping. None at all. He puts his head on the pillow and wakes up refreshed 8 hours later. What a gift.
‘How can a man have so much power?’ he says to himself.
His eyes brighten. ‘I convinced others to give theirs to me, that’s why,’ and he laughs.
‘I convinced them that I would be their shepherd.’ He laughs again.
‘I do worry that I’ve caused lasting damage to my fellow Russians… that my being in power so long has led to an atrophy of their will to be. I do worry. But I won’t live forever, so they’ll have other people govern them. Meanwhile, I will rule this land as I wish and die in power, like Stalin did. President for life. What a charmed life. People will write and write things about me, like some hapless blogger is surely doing just this moment, trying to imagine what goes through my unique mind. But they won’t come even close. There has never been anyone in the world like me. No one. And I will continue to sharpen my cyberwarriors to undermine my enemies. One after the other. They will get so good at it that I will decide elections in other countries.’
He turns around and takes a few steps to sit at his desk. His phone is within arm’s length.
‘I can pick up that phone right now, order the invasion, and all the world’s attention will be on me, on my next moves. Europe will tremble with fear. America will squirm, Xi Jinping worry about what I’ll do next.’
He crosses his legs and brings his hands together interlacing his fingers.
‘I can see the headlines all over the world… “Russia Invades the Ukraine. Troops within reach of Kyiv.” “The Russian leader speaks of Lebensraum. More living space for Russians.” “Germany and Europe Panic”
‘Oh, I’m a genius. Yes. And right now, other world leaders are simply envious of me. But they can’t stop me. They don’t know how. Worse, they won’t dare.’
He rubs his face.
‘I enjoy seeing the world scared of what I can do. What pleasure that gives me.’
‘Ha! And Russians will celebrate me. And I will destroy completely all those who’ve dared oppose me here in my land. I’ll simply get rid of them.’
‘This will be the century of Vladimir Putin. I am now 69 and will govern for another 31 years, and all the while the world will be in awe of my powers.’
‘And next will be Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland. And no one will stop me, no one has the guts to stop me.’
‘I can live with fear… yes… and know how to stare it down… but so few people can.’
He pauses, holding his hands locked in front of him.
‘It’s up to me… and only to me… I alone choose the fate of thousands of people… hundreds of thousands… millions…’
He reaches over to the phone but hesitates… and hangs his head for a moment.
Then, raising it slowly… eyes narrowed as he looks off… the expression determined… fearless,
he says, softly,
‘Do I invade today or tomorrow?’
Oscarvaldes.net. also available on apple and google podcasts and buzzsprout