The Miracle and Tragedy of Ukraine

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They keep doing it, day after day. Defending their land, their right to choose their destiny.
It puts Russians and their supporters to shame. How dare you wish to oppress a land that’s been independent from Russia since 1991.
In their fierceness, Ukrainians remind us all not to give up. To keep trying to achieve whatever it is that we desire.
As they defy death for the sake of their freedom, they remind us to not surrender our dreams. To not give in to mediocrity but to strive relentlessly for the best we can do.
Haven’t accomplished what you want in life?
Look to Ukraine and keep trying, so long as there is breath in you.
Ukrainians have made a deal with destiny. We will get there. No matter what. ‘Death will not stop us,’ they cry out loudly and boldly.
And the world is richer for it.
Day after day the monster that Putin is – with the consent of hypnotized Russians – keeps trying to extinguish the rising Ukrainian star, and day after day the Ukrainian star shines brighter.
Shame and shame again, on all those defenders of Putin, who meekly say ‘Oh, well, Putin was feeling uncomfortable with NATO being so close to him. He needed a little distance. He needed to kill tens of thousands of Ukrainians so he could sleep better.’
Shame and shame again on China’s dictatorship, repellent oppressors of their own people, for their support of Putin.
Shame and shame again on all the countries who don’t want to take a position.
‘Oh, we just want to be neutral.’
In the face of Putin’s daily firing of missiles into Ukraine – his ceaseless massacres – where is it that people go in their soul to hide from that reality?
Where is the fire in Russians’ bellies?
What has happened to the proud and courageous Russians who turned back Hitler?
Did their descendants not inherit the will to rise up against the mockery of a man that Putin is?
In their silence Russians are writing history and a sad chapter it is.
What does a parent tell his child when he/she puts them to bed in their Moscow home and the child asks, ‘Why are we killing Ukrainians?’
‘We… well… Ukrainians are not doing what Putin wants.’
‘If we don’t do what he wants, he kills us?’
‘No… it’s different for us…’
‘We… we’ve learned to keep quiet.’
‘But that’s not what you tell me to do when another child bullies me at school,’ says the child.
‘I know… but Putin is different… he’s…’
‘A really big bully?’
‘More than that.’
‘Like what?’
‘We… all of us Russians… except for some very courageous people willing to complain… we let him become what he is now.’
‘I don’t like that,’ says the child.
‘I don’t either.’
‘Will you do something about it?’
‘I promise I will think about it… come up with something. I promise. Now go to sleep. You have to get up early for school.’
‘Do children in Ukraine get to go to school?’ asks the child.
‘I’m not sure. I think that with the war… in some parts of the country… they have to stay at home.’
‘So the bombs won’t kill them?”
‘Yes. So the bombs won’t kill them.’
‘Can you sing me something happy?’
‘Of course.’
And the parent does.
How many Ukrainian children won’t ever hear their parents sing them a song?

Putin Makes Offer to Zelensky

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It’s early morning and they speak thru a top secret video link. They both have aides with them but we only see the two on the respective screens.

Putin – Good morning.
Zelensky – How many missiles have you sent us today?
Putin – I’ll get to the point.
Zelensky – Speak.
Putin – I can offer you a deal.

Zelensky shakes his head slightly, like we’ve been through this before.

Putin – I want to end the war.
Zelensky – Then pull back to the borders we had before 2014.
Putin – Listen to me… I’m willing to do that in the East… Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson… all goes back to you…

Zelensky leans forward, interested.

Putin – … but I keep Crimea.
Zelensky – No! We’re getting back all our territory. We won’t accept anything else.

Putin lowers his eyes for a moment.

Putin – We’re losing people every day… you are, and I am, too… we can stop this.
Zelensky – Since when has that been important to you? You started it. No one was threatening you…
Putin – What happened, happened. You need to think more broadly. How long you think the West will support you? It’s costing them a lot of money to keep you well armed.
People are unhappy with all the restrictions… the shortages… inflation… and there will likely be a world recession. In America, the democrats may lose the mid term elections. Some Republicans are talking of cutting back on support for Ukraine if they gain control of both houses. But if we make a deal, the West will be grateful and relieved… and you’d be helping democrats win the mid terms. Biden will be especially grateful… and that will open the door to investments in Ukraine… to rebuild…
Zelensky – What you’ve destroyed.
Putin – We need to look forward. I am what I am and did what I did, but you and me, we can stop the losses. Do you want a war that will last forever?

Zelensky rubs his face.

Putin – I will not surrender Crimea and I can keep the war going on and on and on.
Think of the lives we can save.

Putin joins his hands in front of him as he looks directly at Zelensky.

Putin – I need a deal… that’s why I’ve come to you. I have no illusions that Europe will return to buying oil from me… but some of the sanctions will be lifted and that would be good for me and my people.
Zelensky – You must be getting pressure from some groups in Russia…
Putin – Could be… but I’ve dealt with it before.
Think of it this way… if we make a deal right now… both Ukrainian and Russian lives will be spared. If we make a deal right now… we can order that all shooting stop today… this moment… and we hold our gains until we sign the papers. Winter is almost here.
Zelensky – I need to think it over and discuss it with my people.
Putin – Your time thinking and discussing is measured in lives… for I will keep shooting missiles into your land.
Zelensky – And we will keep firing back.
Putin – It’s up to you and me.
Zelensky – Why do you want to keep Crimea and not the East?
Putin – I love the sea… Crimea is surrounded by water… and Russians like to go there on vacation.


Putin – Look, I can’t walk away with nothing. Surrendering the East is already a defeat. But I will not surrender Crimea, even if it means keeping the war going on and on and on.
The world is ready to invest in Ukraine… so, essentially, you have won. I accept that.
But I keep Crimea.
Zelensky – Have you talked about this with anyone else?
Putin – No one.
Zelensky – When did you first think about it?
Putin – It’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks. We can change the mood of the world… you and me… if we compromise. It’s up to us. Volodymyr… think about it…you will go on to be an admired leader for the rest of your life. I won’t. I will have to live with the consequences of my mistakes… and do everything I can to stay in power. Do we have a deal?

Putin and Xi Talk Nuclear

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The two men talk via video.

Putin – Ukrainians keep pushing us back.
Xi – I saw the video of the bombing of your bridge to Crimea.
Putin – Somehow, they got through and planted the bombs.
Xi – They’re getting better and better.
Putin – I will not surrender the East.
Xi – They may take it from you, drive you back to your borders.
I worry that the new soldiers you’ve called up may not be ready for the Ukrainians.
It could lead to a massacre of Russians.
Putin – Then I’ll use nuclear weapons.

Xi pauses, shifts his weight in his seat, looking uncomfortable.

Xi – Like I’ve told you before… it’s not a good idea. The West will respond.
Putin – I have top notch nuclear weapons.
Xi -That’s what you were saying about your army.
Putin (irritated) – You don’t believe me?
Xi – I want to… but I can’t deny the evidence… your army hasn’t delivered.
Putin – My nuclear weapons have been developed by the very best of my people.
Xi – Whether your weapons are good or bad, if you fire them, the West will shoot back… and the losses will be unbelievable.

Xi leans forward, looking Putin directly.

Xi – All because you’ve had this dream of creating a new Russia to surpass what the Soviet Union was.
But that is over, Vladimir. That is not going to happen. You must accept that.

Putting grimaces, displeased.

Xi – If your system were that effective, Russia would be much better off than it is now.

Putin looks off, his discomfort mounting.

Xi – With your human capital and natural resources,
Russia should up there with the top economies, say, rivalling Japan, but it is not. So what’s the point of extending a system that is not that effective?
Putin (firmly) – I will not give up on my dream.
Xi – I won’t pay for your dream.
Putin – I’m not asking you to.
Xi – Do you really think that if you use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the West will say, ‘Okay, we’ll just keep using conventional weapons while you fry us with nuclear ones.’
The way you’re going, desperate as you are, you may decide to hit Kyiv with a nuclear bomb. What do you think the response of the West will be? ‘Oh, he’s done it, he’s serious, let’s leave Ukraine and hope he doesn’t do it again!’
No. They are committed. They will hit your troops with nuclear weapons too and that will be the beginning of the end. The world paying for the price of your madness.

Putin winces. He’s never heard Xi say that to him.

Xi – You may decide you can get away with dropping a bomb on Warsaw or Berlin, maybe even Washington D.C. or New York.
But do you think that, should that happen, the West will spare China?
They will not.
Putin – Why not?
Xi – Because if the West is weakened, they will rightfully conclude that we’ll take advantage of it… grab Taiwan and ask Japan to submit.
Putin – You would do that?
Xi – If the West is weakened, if New York or Washington D.C. are burning, why not?
But they won’t let it happen.
If you decide to shoot at the West, they will respond and shoot at both you and us. I have no doubt.
Vladimir… we’ve worked very hard to get us to where we are… and we don’t want to see Shanghai or Beijing burning because of your madness.
Putin – My madness?
Xi – Yes.
That’s exactly what we’re all seeing. You hitting civilian targets indiscriminately…
Putin – They are killing my people.

Xi pauses, looks down for a moment, frustrated.

Xi (softly) – We’re all paying for it.
Putin (irritated) – How are you paying for it?
Xi – The world economy has weakened. There’s less demand for our products… inflation is growing globally… and then there’s the daily horror of people being killed… mass graves being found where your troops have been… I have done enough repression of my own… but this is too much.

Xi rubs his face, clearly uncomfortable.

Xi – Vladimir… if you’re thinking of going nuclear, then it’s time for you to go.
Putin – Go?

Putin seems confused. He shakes his head slowly.

Putin – I won’t.
Xi – Concede you have lost. Pull back from Ukraine entirely, even Crimea and the Donbas, everything… go back to your normal boundaries. No need for negotiations. No one will threaten your borders.
The West will go into Ukraine and rebuild it. I don’t think they’ll hold back the funds you have in the West. They will give you that back, so you can help your people.
Your test will be to regain Russians’ trust. It won’t be easy. You might face new challenges at home, but you will likely handle that.
Putin – You think it’s over for me?
Xi – Yes. You’ve chased out more than 250 thousand Russians after you announced a call to conscript 300 thousand reservists. It is time to pull back. Your people are getting tired of you… the world is too.
Putin – And you, you’re tired of me, too?
Xi – I will help you as best I can. Learn from this and rebuild Russia. You will never regain the status you had… but you could still be a player.
Putin (shaking his head) – No.
Xi – Don’t burden the world anymore. It’s time to go home.
Putin (feeling wounded) – You’re turning against me… I thought we would be friends forever… that I could always count on you…
Xi – You’re driving us to Hell.
But you can still retrench… and stay in power a while longer.

Putin lowers his head, disconsolate, wounded. After a moment, they hang up.

That same day, after an emergency meeting with the standing committee of the Politburo – a select group of seven leaders – Xi calls up Joe Biden in Washington for a top secret talk. He tells Biden how important it is to keep up the pressure on Putin. He doesn’t think Putin is mad and he would do his best to monitor the situation closely. But if things changed and Putin got close to using nuclear weapons in Ukraine or elsewhere, China would switch sides so that between the West and them, they would pressure Russia to stand down, retreat to behind their borders and so end the war.