He is in his bunker in Kyiv, standing before a large map, going over details of troop movements in the Kherson area, northwest of Crimea.
What can Ukraine become? How much can it influence the present power arrangements in Eurasia?
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, all will be affected by what happens in Ukraine. The question is how much?
He is aware of the enormous responsibility that has come to rest on Ukrainians and him, in particular.
Seven months into Russia’s invasion and there they are pushing Russia back. No one had imagined this outcome was possible. And now the expectations of him and his people are rising.
Putin is on the defensive and discontent in Russia is growing. If only it would lead to public protests. And he imagines Belarussian resistance coming out of the shadows and surging, agitating against their leader Lukashenko, a close Putin ally.
But none of that is likely to happen when he needs it the most.
So it’s up to Ukrainians, with the backing of the West, to keep up the fight. Day and night.
Like his soldiers on the front lines, he’s in it all the way. Victory or death.
No room for escaping to the West should war’s fortunes change.
That is his choice. He will send his wife and family out of the country but he will not leave his land. He will not surrender. Victory or death.
The struggle he chose has transformed him as a man. Pulled out of him all the courage he has. Even courage that he didn’t think he had. Just like with his valiant soldiers.
Still standing before the map on the wall, he leans on it touching it with his hands and forehead.
And he says to himself softly, ‘my dear land… I am yours. I never imagined I’d die for anyone but I’ll die for you.’
He steps back and returns to his seat at his desk. It’s early in the morning and he still hasn’t had breakfast. These days his nights are short. Too much on his mind.
Speaking to himself, ‘I know that we will win… and then rebuilding will start… and that will take as much from me as the war… to make sure we do it well… that there is no corruption… no waste… for the eyes of the world will be upon us. And I’m conscious of my responsibility to help build a model nation… become an inspiration to others… and then a time will come when I will have to step back, let others govern, because we will be a democracy… but that won’t stop my struggle, for all of us have to remain vigilant that the forces of darkness won’t rise again.
The blood we’ve spilt has made us an example for the world… and we will not step back from the responsibility but embrace it with all we have. Oh, dearest land of mine, dearest people of Ukraine… how our struggle ennobles us all.’
The phone rings. It is his secretary. His cabinet has arrived for their daily meeting. It is 5 am.