What happened to all the literature they’ve written? What happened to all the great music they’ve composed? What happened to all the science they’ve produced? Does it all take a back seat to the whims of a murderous man like Putin? A man who, every morning, makes a choice as to the number of missiles he will shoot into Ukraine – never mind whether they strike soldiers or civilians – he just needs to fire them. Russians, where are you hiding? The killing of Ukrainians is being done in your name, so you should do something about it. Any act of resistance counts. Refusing to join the army is a worthy contribution. You may end up in prison but Putin is not going to last long. These days, owing to Ukrainians’ daring and ingenuity, missiles are travelling in the other direction also, hitting targets inside Russia’s borders. And no, Ukrainians will not sit down to discuss an end to the war until all their territories are returned. Proud people that they are, they spelled it out to China the other day. This war is not going to last forever. And it will end with a Ukrainian victory. And a Russia steeped in shame. But there’s still time for Russians to rise and reclaim their nation. Still time for Russians to stand up and choose to embrace the value of liberty and freedom of choice, the right to dissent, to elect their leaders. Russians, what has happened to you? Where are you hiding? Yes, fear is a powerful force, but so is love, so is courage, so is daring, so is decency, so is respect for other human beings. We can’t let fear rule our lives. Somehow it happened to you. You fell asleep, ignored your history of achievements and let a tyrant direct your lives, just like Xi Jinping is doing in China. A life lived in fear is not a life lived. It’s a life forsaken. Go look at yourself in the mirror, ask yourself, am I doing what I should do for myself, for my Russia, for the real Russia, the proud Russia, the Russia that has made enormous contributions to humanity? If you don’t feel anger, then Putin has taken over your life. If you don’t feel rage, then you’ve let Putin intimidate you and put into your mind that Ukrainians are demons, inferior human beings, and so must be eliminated. If you don’t feel horrified then you have let that miserable, murderous human being called Putin, make cruel choices in your name. And you let it happen. It was you who didn’t think. You who didn’t remember your literature, you who didn’t hear the beauty in the music your own brothers and sisters have produced over the centuries. You who have failed. Wake up! There’s still time. Do something about it!
Most are developing nations. And just as they are developing economically, they are developing their ability to take a moral stance. Put another way, they need more time to grow up. To mature. Notable examples are India and Turkiye (Turkey). Turkiye is even a member of NATO and yet they have not agreed to the sanctions imposed by the West, preferring to play both sides. It is reasonable to infer that these undecided nations are afraid of upsetting Russia and China. I am sure all kinds of excuses are conjured up to justify their positions. Of course, the war is far from decided and either party could win. The West could get all tangled up with doubt and not deliver the weapons Ukraine needs to fight back and push the Russians out. With the lethal assistance of China, Putin could double up on the missiles he fires daily on Ukraine and gain an edge that will help defeat them. So far, though, even with all our delays and indecisiveness, enough armaments have got through for the world to witness a remarkable fight. Ukraine, the underdog, bloodying the nose of the big bully next door. The undecided nations have seen this enormous display of valor but have not been persuaded to side with Ukraine. This is remarkable. It is because developing nations are themselves underdogs. There is no certainty, whatsoever, that India or Turkiye will ever fulfill their potential as nations. It is all a dream at this point. Instead of moving forward they may get stuck and regress instead. India may never become what China is now. Turkiye may keep electing autocrats like Erdogan, again and again. A distinctive feature about Ukraine is that here is a nation which has had all manner of difficulties in governance and then, to everyone’s surprise, when the bully next door, loaded with nuclear weapons, chooses to rum them over, they stand up and fight like no one has fought in decades. And yet, despite all that courage, the majority of developing nations cannot make Ukraine’s struggle their own. This is not good. Not to stand up for your brothers and sisters. It reveals a lack of moral strength and a weak historical perspective. Zelensky should be telling the undecided, ‘where’s your courage? Our fight should be your fight. How come you’re not stepping up and owning it? You don’t have to send us anything, not even a toothbrush, but you can do a great deal by standing up in the United Nations and decrying the absurdity of seeing a big bully trample on the little guy next door. If you can’t do that, then you have your priorities wrong. And you’re letting yourself be intimidated by both Russia and China.’ Zelensky should say that, or something close to it. Denounce the undecided. Expose them. Call them timid. Remind them that their evolution to developed nation is not assured with their present behavior. Zelensky ought to speak loudly on this matter for the good of the undecided and the good of the world. The outcome of this conflict is not assured. A deranged Putin may yet fire his nuclear weapons. And as he descends into madness and goes deeper into his orgy of death, when he gets ready to push the button, he may not consult a list to differentiate between the nations for and against the war. After he’s fired on the ‘evil’ West, he will likely keep firing at random… his appetite for killing insatiable. Undecided nations of the world, find your courage now. History remembers timidity and has another word to describe it.
M – Do you take time to be alone? V – Sometimes. I’m a very busy man, with lots of things to do. M – It’s a good habit to get into. V – What’s your point? M – It centers us. Still, we can be alone and get so busy we’re not centered. V – What do you mean by centering? M – Feeling close to ourselves… to our mortality… our aging… our physical degradation… the inevitability of our death… which leads to us affirming our lives… acting as if we matter. V – We have to be busy and constructive with our lives, so we will be remembered. M – We don’t know if we will be remembered… or how… we have no such control. V – With all the advances in data storage, of course we will be remembered. M – Even if we were, we won’t feel a thing from being remembered… V – That’s different. M – How so?
Pause as Vladimir reflects.
V – We have to trust that we will. Stalin is remembered. Hitler will never be forgotten. Ever. M – What have you learned from them? V – Determination. Once you set your sights on something, you never relent. Only death should keep you from your objective. M – Did they contribute to humanity’s development? V – Stalin saved Russia from destruction. I am here because of him. M – You don’t think Russia would have produced another leader, if it needed to, to defend itself against German aggression? V – Maybe… or maybe not. M – Hitler made a horrible mistake invading Russia… but judging from the pool of talent Russia has… Russia would have pushed the Germans back… with or without Stalin. You were fighting for your life. Just like Ukrainians are. V – Ukrainians are fighting a proxy war… they are tools of the West… who’s trying to conquer Russia. M – People who are tools would not fight with the determination Ukrainians are showing. V – I am trying to save Ukrainians from the depraved West. They have lost their way. God has abandoned them. M – God is with you? V – Yes. M – A modern day Crusade you’ve embarked on…? V – Yes. For the good of humanity.
M – I think you’re filled with envy… that it has overtaken your judgment… and because you don’t allow for other people to counter your views… you do not revise your opinions. Has anyone ever told you that you’re an envious man? V – They wouldn’t dare. M – That’s the disadvantage of dictatorship. I have no doubt that if Stalin had had courageous people around him objecting to his killing his adversaries… Russia would’ve been better off. V – Stalin would have killed them, too. It was not a time to be soft. M – You meant not a time to be fair… V – I meant what I said. Why do you say I’m envious? M – Because nations smaller than you, with fewer natural resources, have developed more than Russia. V – But they don’t have our nuclear weapons. M – That is your curse. You hide behind them. And you hide Russia behind them. The war you started with Ukraine is only making it harder for Russians to join in with the rest of the world. Your people could be making important contributions to the advancement of humanity… instead you’ve set your sights on the destruction of a people fighting for their freedom. It will be hard for Russians to deal with the guilt of having embraced you in the destruction of Ukraine… like it has been hard for Germans to deal with the guilt over the killing of Jews. V – You say I’m filled with envy… how do you get rid of it? M – You don’t. You learn to manage it. V – How? M – You say to yourself, ‘I am envious. I covet what others have.’ Then you add, ‘but they have worked for it, or they have abilities I don’t have… or I have not yet developed…’ and you accept their difference… and this acceptance of the other leads you to affirm your own difference… to affirm your own talents… your own gifts. And if you are honest in doing so… then you can welcome others as they are, even if they are better than you at one thing or another… and when you truly accept that such a person or nation functions better than you or your nation… you say to them ‘thank you for striving to be your best… for all of us will benefit from it. In turn, my people and I will strive to do the same.’
Vladimir nods pensively.
M – Notice that I didn’t say anything about killing anyone. Nothing about destroying what others have achieved. Or bombing or maiming them. The journey to conquer envy is a task for every human being, whether educated or not, rich or poor. It is a journey to self acceptance that will help us in our struggle to contribute our best effort to humanity… while we have the energy and wisdom. V – For me to not be envious would mean accepting that the way I’ve governed has been a big mistake. M – Yes. V – I don’t think I can do that. M – Then you’re choosing to not start on the journey to managing your envy. Do you prefer instead to keep ordering the killing of Ukrainians, day after day? All those lives you’ve ended had contributions to make… all of them… but because you’re choosing to not confront yourself and select another path… those contributions will not be made. Every life ended in this war is a life not fulfilled… a treasure not discovered… V – I know it will not end well… this war. Sometimes, I think I’ve created an inferno… with me tossing people into it… every day. Sometimes I even think I hear their cries… their anguish as they burn… and I fear that someone will emerge from that cauldron… come for me… and drag me into it.
The world has not yet acknowledged how complete my domination has been. From here, in Moscow, I can choose to kill every day. The number I want killed is entirely up to me. I can say, let me fire a missile into this town… no, let me hit the other town… or better yet, both towns. And no one can stop me. No one. I wield absolute power. In Washington, Biden scratches his head, every day, wondering how he could stop me. But nothing comes to him. How have I acquired my power? By building my nuclear arsenal, steadily, improving it and making it clear I’m willing to use it… and by convincing my people that I know best. How I managed to convince so many people will be studied by historians for years – how I stripped the majority of Russians of the will to be their own person. And so the world is in awe of me… some may hate me… but they’re in awe of my power. I can fire a missile or several, to Washington, to New York, to San Francisco, to London, to Paris, to Madrid… I can destroy Singapore… Tokyo… Manila… Mumbai… Delhi… and why spare South America… how about Buenos Aries… Rio… Santiago… Sao Paulo… then Melbourne… Sydney… and I can fire them at the same time. I might even send one to the International Court of Justice in The Hague… take care of all those judges while they’re at work… Gordon Brown in England was blabbering the other day about charging me with crimes against humanity. He’d better watch his mouth. And how I love to see the deference that world leaders show me… every single one of them… for when they come to me they come to see the king. I look into their eyes carefully and notice how a handshake is not quite enough… that they’d rather bow to me… the deeper the bow the better… and I love it. Even Xi Jinping… he knows he’s been helpful so that gives him some protection… but it’s up to me, isn’t it… up to me to spare him… for if I get pissed off I’ll bomb the crap out of China, too. Nero… the emperor… got to see his Rome burn… it must have been exhilarating… but I can add it to my list and see the whole world burn. I have been able to climb to this position because of my complete subjection of the Russian people. All of them. And those who brand themselves ultranationalists… I let them talk and be critical… but the day I find no use for them or get tired… I’ll round them up and eliminate them. Every single one of them.
He’s been sitting at his desk, now he swivels a little, crosses his legs.
Have I crossed the line? Yes… I have. There’s no way back for me. But no modern day leader can say what I can say today… I dominate the world. I know it won’t last… nothing does… but I’m enjoying the thrill. Still, I have choices… I can go down in flames with the entire world… exhaust my nuclear arsenal… fire all my missiles and bombs… kill as many as I possibly can… watch hundreds of millions of people destroyed by my fury… bring humanity to their knees… or I can take pity and spare some nations.
He nods to himself.
I know my end is approaching. It’s been terribly exciting… festive… a carnival of death. And yet… I’d like to be remembered, too… yes… no point in killing everybody. I know I will die in my fury but I’d like to be remembered… so I must spare some people so they can tell the story… if I have an Achilles heel, then that is it… that I don’t want to see history end. I want the world to have a memory of me. I want to be studied and quoted and seen as so significant a force that from here on history will be divided into the before Putin era – bP – and the after Putin era – aP. But can anyone stop me?
He pauses as he joins his hands in his lap.
Only the daring… the very bold… only the willing to sacrifice everything to save the world. Save it… yes… from me. I know there are people like that… men and women… now planning to strike the fatal blow… I can feel it… But I’d prefer that it be one of my own… a courageous Russian.
I am now in favor of Biden running for reelection in 2024. Did he stumble going up the stairs to his plane recently? So what? Does he stammer on occasion? So what? Does he miss a beat sometimes? So what? As I write this I hear Beethoven conducted by Bernstein and the NY Philharmonic orchestra in the background and to mind comes poet Dylan Thomas’ exhortation to his father, ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light’. That’s right, Joe Biden, rage, rage! Take on the Republican adversary and give them a good fight. You’re doing a good job so keep at it. The war effort would not be where it is now were it not for your push. Although I strongly believe you need to be bolder and confront Putin to stop firing missiles from behind his borders to kill Ukrainians and destroy their country. Should you take this step the war will come to an end sooner. It could be the turning point. Please think about it carefully. Advancing age does create problems for all of us but every one of us is different and there are men and women older than you making important contributions to humankind. I’m reminded of a researcher in England whose name I don’t recall, who had celebrated her 100th year and still walked down the hill from where she lived on the way to her lab. Every day. So ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light!’ You are clear in the perception that our nation stands now at a critical juncture in history. The two largest totalitarian regimes in the world, deniers and abusers of man’s eternal quest for freedom of expression, have joined forces to trample on the West. They must be stopped. Until such time as when their people will awaken. Maybe we should drop millions of copies of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ from balloons overhead on China and Russia so they can start pulling out of their existential mud. But while we wait for them to breathe the air of freedom and dare challenge their oppressors, here in America we have plenty of work to do to correct long held injustices. We can do it. Your leadership comes filled with hope and an openness to dialogue. That many Republicans are still under the spell of Trump and Trump alike figures is part of what our nation has to deal with. But keep pushing hard to do what you think needs to be done. If you’re wrong, we’ll tell you. And if you fall ill as you press on with your term and the next, well, then our medical teams will step in to restore you to full competency. And if your time is past, then Harris will kick in. Meanwhile, go forth young man, young at heart, young in your mind, striving to fight off the bullies and dictators seeking to keep humanity on its knees. Stay open to criticism. If you’re not well enough to continue doing your job then tell us. We need that honesty from you. But who knows when that will be? Defy the odds, keep pushing, striving to do your best. ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light!’ And ‘run, Biden, run!’
In his temporary lodging, Putin awakens in the middle of the night. Something was stirring in his mind that interrupted his sleep. He sits up on the side of the bed. He switches on the light on the nightstand. It’s 2:05 am. It’s the first night he spends at this location. It’s secure, with plenty of surveillance. Yesterday at midday, just before he had lunch, he got a call from his personal secret service. A possible assassination attempt had been intercepted. He was given some details with more to come as the investigation proceeded. It has happened before but he feels confident his people are providing excellent protection. And yet, it’s hard to relax. ‘Hi’ He’s stunned for an instant but recognizes the tone of the voice and sighs with relief. ‘You again…’ ‘Yes… me…’ The disembodied voice has no discernible source. It’s just there, all over the room. Putin looks around the room, slowly. ‘What should I call you?’ he asks. ‘Whatever you wish.’ ‘My conscience?’ ‘You could say that…’ ‘What’s the point?’ ‘To help you think.’ ‘Ah, that.’ Putin smiles. ‘You’ve said you needed space… that you felt hemmed in by the West… so Ukraine should be yours…’ ‘That’s right. Not just my space but Russia’s. I’m doing it for Russia.’ ‘I’m familiar with the argument… but as I examine things… it seems to me what you are really needing is enlargement of your mental space.’ ‘Aha.’ Putin chuckles. ‘Looks to me like you’re cramped inside your mind…’ ‘Cramped?’ ‘Yes. For instance, in your way of thinking, sexual orientation is of only one kind… you have to be straight or you fall outside the law.’ ‘That’s right.’ ‘It doesn’t seem unnatural to you?’ ‘Not at all. Russia is the future of mankind and perversions are not allowed.’ ‘Wow. It is amazing how you can be so certain about matters so complicated and which stir so much debate in other societies…’ ‘Decadent societies. Here in Russia, we strive for purity.’ ‘Purity… hmm… that’s a troublesome word, isn’t it? I mean, Hitler used it and then led so many people to their deaths… caused so much disruption… so much pain… so much loss.’ ‘You don’t think we can be pure?’ ‘No. We’re all tainted, impure… a mix of generosity and hatred… a blend of the sublime and the vile… we’re human…’ ‘I don’t want that for my Russia…’ ‘… and, surprisingly… the more aware we are of our sometimes sharp contradictions… the more of a chance we have to control our excesses… the more of a chance we have to temper our actions… to perchance find understanding… even kindness.’ ‘I’m a great believer in the Russian Orthodox Church and what Patriarch Kirill has to say.’
‘It’s hard for me to understand how a church like that can be so close minded.’ ‘Call it what you will but so long as I have nuclear weapons that’s the way it will be. I have the power to bring the world to its knees… and Russians love me for it… they love the power I give them… they may be isolated in this world but I make them feel special… big.’ ‘We have a problem here, don’t we… it’s hard to get through to you.’
Putin nods pensively.
‘I think I’ve crossed that line. A while back.’ ‘I find it amazing… here you are, talking about being special, you and all Russians… and you’re killing you neighbor every day… mothers, fathers, children. In the name of the church?’ ‘In the name of a new world order… together with China… a new world order where the rules are written by a few outstanding leaders… like me and Xi… and the rest follow the rules. At first I had doubts I could do it but no longer. I am certain now. I can intimidate them all… Macron, Scholz, Sunak… in fact they’re already working to get Zelensky to compromise and come to the negotiating table… where I will insist on keeping the territory I’ve conquered… and the plan they proposed doesn’t even give Ukraine NATO protection. It’s a victory for me, already. I was right. I could divide the West.’ ‘What about America?’ ‘America… ha! Makes me laugh. All that talk about freedom and they love strong men, they elected Trump didn’t they? All that talk about freedom’s benefits, but what do they want to do with it? Get a gun! Ha! And yes, I’ll do everything I can to get Trump reelected. And I’ll ask comrade Xi to help, and together we’ll help persuade the voters that Trump should be president again. And then again, after he changes the rules. Too bad the assault on the Capitol didn’t go well. But look at how many Senators and Representatives still love him? I’m convinced human beings prefer the comforts of living on their knees to the pain and tribulations of having a mind of their own.’ ‘In the meantime… you’ll keep killing your neighbors?’ ‘They have to learn their lesson. Maybe one day, in the future, human beings will learn to live in freedom… I admit it has its attractions… love… brotherhood… sisterhood… yes… all that… but that’s in the future… I live in the present. So what do you have to say to that?’ ‘In your power… you are not free,’ replies the voice, ‘your mind narrow as your heart.’
All is quiet now. Putin’s expression turns somber.
Present circumstances are creating opportunities and reasons to end the conflict as soon as possible. One, Russia’s army has shown weaknesses we didn’t expect. There are feuds within their forces, which includes the mercenary Wagner group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin. How come such a group gets to play an oversize role in Russia’s defense forces? Something is amiss in the Kremlin. Two, China has decided to openly aid Putin in all ways possible, weapons included. They see the war and taking Putin’s side as a path to split the world into two camps, with joining him becoming a first step until they gather the strength to come after us and make the world only one camp. Their camp. Three, Putin has announced he will suspend the existing Nuclear Arms Treaty with us. This is part of his scare tactics that must be confronted, not given into. The sooner Putin is defeated in Ukraine, the less the likelihood of a nuclear confrontation. Why? Because China wouldn’t let him start one since they, too, would become a target. Though we have given much support to Ukraine over this past year, we have been indecisive and timid in our actions. For instance, the promised delivery of tanks has been delayed and a precious opportunity to push back Russia has been wasted at the cost of many lives. The divisions within the western alliance are eroding much needed resolve. There is talk about negotiating a peace treaty when a military solution is clearly possible. In Italy, former prime minister Berlusconi speaks openly of his admiration for Putin. In Hungary, prime minister Orban is not far behind. And why has Erdogan been allowed to block Sweden and Finland’s full NATO membership? Present circumstances call for speedy access to NATO and not to have it held back because of Turkiye’s internal problems. Erdogan has not even agreed to the sanctions NATO has imposed on Russia, therefore severely undermining the war effort. An autocrat like Erdogan does not deserve to be holding up NATO. There is no question that Ukraine’s effort has earned our admiration. Ukrainians’ courage has helped us regain our own courage. The courage we did not have when, in 2014, we did nothing as Putin took over all of Crimea. Had we shown courage then, Ukraine would not have been in the present condition. As leader of the Free World we don’t get to be passive in the face of such actions. We either accept such role with all its responsibilities or relabel ourselves as something else. Mr Biden, you are now a war president. And difficult choices must be made. Why is it that we have allowed Russia to shoot missiles into Ukraine from their own territory, while we deny Ukrainians their right to fire back? By allowing this we are granting a grossly unfair advantage while signaling that we have yielded to intimidation. If we have the courage to acknowledge this, then we can recover our moxie and do what’s right. His missiles are killing people and destroying Ukraine. If Putin wants to fire missiles to kill Ukrainians then move the missiles to the territory they have conquered and fire them from there. That way Ukrainians can fire back and destroy them as I’m sure they would. Mr Biden, as war president, you must challenge Putin and fix this cruel imbalance. If Putin then chose to keep firing such missiles from his own territory, we should then give Ukraine permission to fire back into Russian territory. An escalation? In his eyes, yes, but instead it should be seen as a necessary rectification. Why should Putin be allowed to kill as he pleases? Do not forget for one moment that China is carefully watching for signs and moments of weakness in us. It is inevitable that we will have those but we should act quickly to rectify them. Ukraine has shown such determination to succeed that, if given all they need, I have no doubt they will push Russia back to behind its borders. And then, immediately upon their doing so, we should grant Ukraine temporary NATO protection, in effect bringing the war to a halt. We should tell Ukrainians this now, so it will act as a further incentive for their tenacious fighting. Mr Biden, your trip to Kyiv was an important step. Thank you for that. Now we need to stop the missiles. You are our war president. Please move to end this conflict now.
The invasion of Ukraine by Putin on February 24th was a brazen power grab. Putin decided that having Ukraine under his thumb would tell the world, ‘Russia will take the space it needs to feel comfortable.’ To provide some justification for such action, he invented the notion that NATO had seduced Ukraine into joining the West and so encroach upon him. He ignored the Ukrainian sentiment to not be under the Russian boot. Putin was expecting Ukraine to not resist his invasion and instead welcome him with open arms – that Ukrainians would bend a knee in honor of his majesty from Moscow. But Ukrainians put up the fiercest fight of any country against an invader since WWII. Thousands have died and much of the country has been destroyed as they hold fast in defense of their sovereignty. The West was surprised by the show of courage but has committed to supporting their effort. And an angry and humiliated Putin has increased his aggression, bombing Ukraine wantonly, and sending ever greater numbers of soldiers to the battlefront. The West has responded with economic sanctions which have slowed Russia’s economy. But Russia has countered with restrictions on their sale of gas and oil to Europe on which the continent had become dependent and so affected their productivity. Still, Europe has been able to deal with the loss by getting LNG (liquefied natural gas) from America and some of the oil and gas producers from the Arabian Gulf. Russia has fought back on the sanctions by selling their oil and gas at lower prices to clients like China and India. Meanwhile, China and Iran have provided weapons to Russia, making them outright partners in the war. While the battle continues to rage on Ukrainian soil, the contending parties are now at a relative standstill. But this will not last for long. Ukraine keeps asking for more weapons from the West and this has created rifts in the alliance, with some nations showing signs of support fatigue. If the West doesn’t keep up shipments of armaments to Ukraine, then Russia will have the edge and conquer the country. But what has Ukraine done for us? They have awakened us to the reality of a new power balance in the world. Russia and China, who both have totalitarian regimes, want to dominate the world. They want to spread their version of government as far and wide as they possibly can. In their doing so they will attempt to control markets to support their systems. We cannot let them do that. At stake is the preservation of human beings’ freedom. So Ukraine has become the battleground for a new power balance in our world. Push back Russia to behind its borders with Ukraine and we will be sending a clear signal that our system of government will not be subverted. Lose in Ukraine and the signal we send will be that we lack the determination to defend any country where an outsider steps in to control it. But to win in Ukraine we need a greater effort than we have made so far. To win, we must treat Ukraine as if it is already one of our own. Ukrainians have fought with enormous courage and that alone should grant them that status. NATO membership procedures need to be modified to give them immediate access. They would still have to make some governmental structural changes for full membership, but access to the protection against an invader should be given solely on the merits of the courage they have shown. Turkiye should not be allowed to become an obstacle to such inclusion. Nor should Hungary. Already Turkiye is playing both sides in the conflict. They help Ukraine and Russia. And they have not agreed to join with the rest of NATO nations in sanctions against Russia. Turkiye has even objected to Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO unless they allow for the extradition of members of a Kurdish party that is opposed to the present president of Turkiye, a well known autocrat. Through their enormous courage, Ukraine has become one of our own and should be treated as such. For those concerned that some of the funds sent to them may be misused, there are remedies for that. But weapons should continue to be provided. Ukraine and the West must win this war. The conflict should not be allowed to go on and on. Up until now, Putin has been firing missiles unto Ukraine from inside of Russia which have been responsible for enormous losses in lives and infrastructure. And yet, we have been reluctant to give Ukrainians the missiles they need to fire back. Would that be an escalation? Yes. But it must be done. Step up to Putin and tell him, ‘Either you stop firing the missiles unto Ukraine or we will enable them to do so in return. Your choice’. Doing this will save thousands of lives. And it will mark our full commitment to the task of defeating Putin in Ukraine. To those who think that doing this will push Putin to use his nuclear weapons, I say, Russia will not do so because it will risk a nuclear war. And China would be the first to remind Putin that if he were to fire such weapons, they too would become a target of the West because they have been a known accomplice of his. We must act now. No peace talks should begin unless Putin agrees to withdraw completely from Ukraine. Including from Crimea. President Biden should more actively speak about the importance of winning this war to all Americans. There is an urgent need to make sacrifices for Ukraine. And it is for us to lead the effort.
You don’t have to take up arms against Putin, resist instead. Stop building armaments. Stop pumping oil. Don’t go to work. Resist and you will help paralyze the economy. Soldiers in the battle fronts, put down your guns. Refuse to be an accomplice of Putin. Refuse to kill Ukrainians. Refuse to allow Putin to send you into battle. Value your life. If you are not free to say what you wish then you are a pawn of others. You are not your own person. If you have not developed your own thoughts then you are letting Putin think for you. To become a true human being you must do your own thinking. If you think you have a right to kill Ukrainians then you have consented to be degraded by Putin. Russians, let your anger rise! It is anger you need to be who you truly are, not what Putin wants you to be. Rise and be an example to other enslaved nations. Your leader is a small man, envious of other leaders because he hasn’t been able to guide your nation to where it could be, given all your resources and human capital. A small man who has kept you isolated instead of joining the rest of the world. But he is clever, a clever murderer, and he’s managed to mislead most of you. Russians, you are not innocent in this war. You can’t just say you were following orders. Ukrainians did no harm to you and there you are choosing to kill them. How long will this go on? It is unbelievable that you have been so passive. It will be almost a year since the war started and aside from the people who have chosen to leave and a few scattered protests, there has been complete silence in your nation. Do you just swallow everything that Putin says? In Iran massive protests shook the nation after Mahsa Amini’s death for not following the rules of proper dress. Even in China, there were protests against the covid lockdowns. Meanwhile, in Russia, silence. ‘Yes, sir’. ‘No, sir’. ‘Go kill Ukrainians!’ ‘Yes, sir’. ‘Fire missiles into their apartment buildings, into their schools, into their hospitals’. And you do whatever your highness, Putin, says. There are world leaders who want Putin to win this war. People like Xi Jinping and others. Which is not difficult to understand because the Chinese are not free people either. And in the United Nations representatives from all over the world talk and talk and solve nothing. Zero. But they eat very well and sleep comfortably at the end of the day. And you watch it all quietly. Nothing stirs in your heart and minds. Are you alive or just robots? I have to remind myself that Alexei Navalny is still in prison. Have to remind myself that in him lies the future of Russia. That’s the true Russia! Fight Russians! What are you waiting for? Let the spirit of Navalny rise, stop the killing of Ukrainians and join the world!
The answer is not clear to many because we are being indecisive. One sign of such indecisiveness has been the reluctance to offer Ukraine the proper weapons to counter Putin’s offensive. It took forever to agree to sending in the tanks. It is taking forever to agree to sending in the planes. Forever to agree to the fact that Russia should not be allowed to be firing missiles into Ukraine from their own territory while insisting that the West should not aid Ukraine with weapons that can land in Russia proper. Why not? Are with Ukraine or not? What are we afraid of? It is not enough to say we are afraid of Putin. Not enough because he can be confronted on the matter of nuclear weapons. Our nuclear weapons are just as good as his and China’s. And it should be clear also, that so long as China is around, they will act as a check on Putin because if we’re fired upon then China becomes a target. A target because of their assisting Russia in the killing of Ukrainians and thus a threat to all of us. No one wants a nuclear war. But we are here because of previous indecisiveness. In 2014, Putin invaded and took over Crimea while Obama was president. That is on us. On Europe. On the West. We let the bully take a bite out of someone’s else’s land and get away with it. It should have been dealt with on the spot but it was not. All those high ranking thinkers in Europe and the West kept justifying the buying of oil from Putin, the shaking hands with him as he ruthlessly silenced his population. And Putin knew it. ‘The West is weak’ he concluded. ‘I can take them’. So here it is. And he’s not far from the mark because if Trump had won the election in 2020 he would not have objected to Putin calling him up to tell him he was thinking of annexing Ukraine. The mastermind of Make America Great Again would have said to himself, ‘what I really mean when I say MAGA, is for us to stay home and tend to our own garden’. But that won’t do because we live in a big world and with ability comes responsibility. And we have plenty of ability. Trump missed that. A huge miss. Which is why he should be out of politics altogether. So why are we fighting? Because we owe it to Ukraine, who helped break the denial we were in, thinking that coexistence with Putin was possible, thinking that he would be considerate and reasonable. The world we live in is not like that. If we leave it up to the Chinese they will enslave us. And so will Putin. This denial was worse in Europe, which has a long history of it. Peaceful coexistence is out, so we must invest in being properly armed. Yet even today, chancellor Scholz in Germany acts with timidity and so Macron in France. Macron even took the lead for a while in persuading the West to consider Putin’s ‘feelings’, how he should not be humiliated – the poor and frail thing. Since then Macron’s backed off a little but not much. Recently, in talking about sending more armaments to Ukraine, he spoke of being ‘open to the possibility’ of providing such help. Still tentative, the French President. Never mind the mounting toll of dead Ukrainians. Macron must have thought that we can dilly dally so long as those croissants are warm for breakfast. As far as Chancellor Scholz is concerned, he should step down and let someone else take over in time of war, such is his difficulty making choices. Yesterday, the British stepped forward and offered to supply planes. But it will take time to train the pilots to operate them. Time that equals more dead Ukrainians. Biden replied that we would not be sending F-16s. Again, the fear of upsetting Putin. Meanwhile, Zelensky, who feels deeply the continued loss of life in his great land, keeps begging for assistance. Begging. On his knees for his dear land. ‘We will do the dying, but please give us the weapons,’ he keeps imploring us all. ‘Trust that we will give all we have in pursuit of victory.’ True, there has already been much assistance from the West and because of it Ukraine stands today, but there should be more. If there is more, then this war can come to an end soon. So, please, let us help Ukraine win the fight of their lives. We owe it to them. I repeat, we owe it to them because they are helping us break through the denial that both Russia and China are not rapacious adversaries. We must stand up to Putin. To Xi Jinping. Even if it inconveniences us. Ukrainians are doing the dying. Surely we can put up with some more discomfort. Let us give Ukraine all the help they need. Let us say to Russia, ‘if you don’t stop firing missiles into Ukraine from your own territory, then we will arm Ukraine so it can do the same. And we will give them planes. And the moment Ukrainians succeed in pushing you back to behind your borders, we will give them full NATO protection because they deserve it.’ The blood Ukraine has shed and will shed, has lifted them as a mighty example of heroism. They need us now.