God Talks to Putin

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He’s sitting in his bunker, facing a row of telephones and a wall covered with TV monitors showing scenes of his troops’ movements and the devastation of the war.
But he is restless. The war is not going the way he wanted.
Now all lights go off and the windowless room turns pitch black.
He is startled. This has never happened before.
He presses the emergency button to call for help but there’s no response.
Is he under attack?
He gets up, cautiously, and finds his way to the door.
It’s locked.
Furious, he calls out for assistance as he turns the knob, repeatedly, but nothing gives.
‘I have to be calm,’ he says to himself. ‘Where’s my gun?’
In the darkness, he moves slowly back in the direction of his desk and after a moment reaches it.
He opens a drawer to his right and finds the gun.
He takes it out and lays it on the desk.
‘The power should come back any moment,’ he tells himself.
Now the faint glimmer of a light appears behind him. He quickly turns around and points the gun at it.
The light emanates from a small golden colored orb that dims and brightens as it grows in size.
Putin holds the gun with both his hands, aiming it directly at the orb.
‘Stop!’ he cries out.
But the orb keeps enlarging slowly, while dimming and brightening.
Putin fires a shot directly into it. The orb is not altered.
‘Vladimir…’ says the orb with a soft, gentle voice.
Putin is frightened.
‘Why are you killing?’
Putin fires again, to no avail.
‘Men, women and children who have done nothing to you…’
Putin fires another round.
Now the luminous orb starts to rise slowly, suspended in the air.
Putin quickly gets out of his chair and goes under his desk, the gun pointed at the orb.
The orb advances slightly and Putin fires another round.
But nothing stops the orb.
Panicking, he fires off the rest of his bullets, and when there are no more rounds he tries to get out from under the desk but finds that he cannot. Something is blocking him. Something he cannot see.
The orb advances as it enlarges its size, the golden light dimming and brightening.
Then the orb stops.
‘Why, Vladimir?’ asks the orb.
‘They were threatening me, they were threatening Russia!’
‘No, they were not… you made that up… made that up to build yourself up… build yourself up because your country has been failing.’
‘We are not failing!’ cries out Putin in desperation as he tries to free himself from something invisible that is keeping him pinned under the desk.
‘Yes, you are. Sadly, what you’re best at is making guns, weapons, rockets… to kill people… don’t you think Russians are much better than that?’
‘Yes, we are! This is all part of a plan to rebuild the great Russian empire. This is the first step to then conquer the world!’
‘You mean to destroy the world…’ answers the orb, ‘because all you leave in your path is death and destruction, Vladimir, nothing else.’
‘Who are you?’ asks Putin, crouched under his desk.
‘Who do you think I am?’ replies the orb.
‘My conscience?’
‘I am God, Vladimir.’
Putin laughs, derisively. ‘God, you say, what hogwash.’
‘I get that all the time…’ returns the orb.
‘Prove it to me!’ cries an emboldened Putin.
‘I don’t play those games but suffice it to say you’re not going anywhere until I say so.’
Putin tries again to free himself from the invisible binds holding him under the desk but cannot.
‘Fuck you!’ shouts Putin.
The orb says nothing for a moment, then, ‘there’s nothing musical about that word… try something else…’
‘If you were really God, then why did you let the war happen? Why did you let all those people get killed?’
‘Good point,’ says the orb. ‘I’m not all powerful as some believe… I can’t stop human beings from killing each other… but what I can do, is remind everyone that hope and kindness are the only way forward… for that is the fountain of our creativity… of human beings’ capacity to improve the world.’
‘Hogwash!’ says, Putin. ‘You’re an impostor. I don’t know what tricks you’re using but I’ll figure it out and deal with you.’
‘Vladimir…’ starts the orb patiently…
‘President Putin to you! Blasphemer! Idiot!’
‘Vladimir…’ trying again… ‘I have come to help you. You’ve already made yourself an outcast… your cruelty has already branded you…’
‘You can’t send me to hell?’ responds Putin, mockingly.
‘You are in hell, already… because that’s what Ukraine is now, a living hell that you created.’
‘Get out! I don’t want to talk to you! Charlatan!’
‘I come…’ resumes the orb, patiently, ‘because you are losing the war and may want to use nuclear weapons. That’s why I’m here. Please listen to me… the world will not let you use nuclear or chemical weapons on Ukrainians without responding. And between America and Europe, they have enough to wipe you out.’
‘Ha! I have my rockets pointed at Washington and London and Los Angeles and Houston and Dallas and New York. I’ll obliterate them! I may not destroy everything but I’ll get most of it. And that’ll be enough for me.’
‘You think you’ll survive?’
‘I don’t care.’
‘That’s a lot of cities, you mentioned… but they’ll fire back and aim directly at Moscow and St Petersburg… so there’ll be nothing left. And if you survive, what will you tell your followers, as they stand in rags before you, burnt from radioactivity? You’ll tell them that’s the first step to building the new Russian empire? Vladimir, they’ll grab you and cut you into little pieces.’
‘At least I’ll have the satisfaction that I destroyed the West. And I will have opened the path for China to be number one in the world.’
‘Small consolation for a man who wanted to build the Russian empire. I hear a desperate man, envious of the West and afraid…’ says the orb, patiently.
Putin again tries to free himself but cannot. ‘Let me out!’
‘Settle down, you little prick!’ snaps the orb impatiently.
Putin laughs. ‘You’re not God.’
‘I lose my temper, too. Now listen to me, there’s still a way out for you. And you can save your skin. Your wounded pride you’ll have to lick for the rest of your life but you can at least, live.’
‘Which way out?’ says Putin, showing interest.
‘Walk away.’
Putin is silent.
‘Admit your mistake and walk away.’
‘And give up Ukraine?’
‘It was never yours. They don’t want you there.’
‘What about Crimea, the new republics in Donbas?’
‘Let them decide their fate democratically, with the vote.’
‘I’ll never do that,’ says Putin as he looks away, shaking his head, glumly.

Silence follows.

Putin again, ‘You think Russians will forgive me?’
‘Yes… if you stop making mistakes. Sanctions will be lifted and you’ll have another try at building a nation.’
‘I think I’ve gone too far, already.’
‘The mothers of those soldiers who return alive will be forever grateful.’
‘I’ll still get a chance to go to Heaven?’ asks Putin.
The orb thinks about it for a moment. ‘Vladimir… I’ve been God for a while now, and I still can’t find where Heaven is. I think it’s right here on earth. It’s here every day of our lives… you see it in human beings’ kindness, generosity, eternal hope… and undying quest for excellence.’
‘And hell?’
‘Right here, too. In illness, violence, poverty… in innocent people serving sentences in prison… and what you’re doing in Ukraine.’
Putin, dejected, shaking his head slowly. ‘You think I fucked up?’
‘You did. But really big men recognize their flaws.’

The orb and Putin look at each other for a moment.

‘I’ve said my piece… you’re free to go now,’ says the orb.

Putin finds he’s no longer bound and is able to get out from under the desk. He stands facing the orb.

‘Do I get to see you again?’ asks Putin.
‘You never know,’ replies the orb.
And then it disappears.
The lights in the room come up and all the equipment is back working.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

Ukraine is Becoming a NATO Nation

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By virtue of its courage, its tenacity in the battlefield,
Ukraine is becoming a NATO nation.
The men, women and children who have died in their heroic quest
Are clear testament that the proud nation
Is becoming a NATO nation.
As the world witnesses the atrocities committed by Russians,
Day after day,
Ukraine, with its valiant stand for their right to choose their destiny
Is becoming a NATO nation.
We will not be conquered! They cry out confidently.
We will not surrender! They affirm with vigor,
Even as the Russian missiles fly into their residences, their schools, their hospitals,
While Putin, comfortably in Moscow,
Reviews the damage.
‘Not enough!’ he says, ‘we need more. More dead, more wounded, more destruction,
Until they come begging to me, kneel before me and plead for relief.’
But Ukrainians are not asking for an audience with the murderous man,
They are asking for more and more weapons and support from the West,
So they can fight on,
So they can defend their land,
A land which has now transformed itself into a symbol of freedom
For the rest of the world,
A symbol of freedom for all those peoples who now tolerate
The repressive rule of their dictators,
Nations like China and wherever else autocrats and despots live.
Ukraine’s quest is for victory or death,
And as they struggle on against the brutality that Russia embodies,
They cover themselves with glory
While Russia debases itself with shame.
No more talk of neutrality!
A nation that has bled so much cannot settle for a silent voice.
They are risking it all, everything, for their right to be who they are.
While in Russia, millions of people,
Watching sheepishly on TV the version that Putin chooses to feed them,
Afraid to question,
Become accomplices in a grand massacre of fellow Slavs.
Sooner or later, Putin, as he is defeated in the battlefield,
Will choose to use chemical or nuclear weapons on the Ukrainian people,
To exterminate them,
With the consent of China – who has practice with genocide – and all the autocrats of this world,
And the West will say NO!
For Ukraine, with its grand affirmation of their right to be free,
With all the death and damage they have endured,
With all the valor they have shown,
Has now become a NATO nation.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Russia Threatens Nuclear War

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This threat has been made often since the start of the invasion, with Putin arguing that the West is using Ukraine as a proxy against him and his people.
But it is Putin and Russia, who in assaulting Ukraine, are assaulting the West.
If Ukraine had meekly said, ‘Oh yes, we really want to be like Russians, we love how you live, how you bow daily to your great leader, so go ahead Putin, we gladly surrender to you, too,’ then we wouldn’t be having this problem.
But they did not.
Instead, Ukrainians have sacrificed thousands of lives, endured immense destruction of what they have built, all for the sake of a future different than life under the Russian boot.
Russia, except for those who have had the courage of dissenting, has become a symbol of brutality to the world.
Whatever your contributions to the world, they now pale next to the pain and suffering you are willfully inflicting on others.
How can you erase that from the conscience of our civilization?
You cannot. And so it becomes your curse. Russia’s curse.
If Putin or his foreign minister or whatever other stooge, repeats the threat that they may be forced to use nuclear weapons if the West continues to arm Ukraine, then we will deal with it.
Because giving in to Russia in Ukraine is giving in to Russia anywhere.
So the threat to use nuclear weapons becomes worthless.
Knowing the intensity of Russia’s cruelty is good enough for us. We see it every day.
We know you are capable of anything and that you don’t give a damn.
We know you will fire those nuclear weapons and kill hundreds of thousands of people.
All of Russia, exception made of those who have had the courage to dissent, are now part of an assault on the West and the rest of the world.
Somehow, you, along with the Chinese, have come to believe that you are a gift to the rest of us.
You are not. We have no desire to be like you. You are an example to no one.
If you want the war to stop, you need to pull back into your territory. Rest assured that we will not go after you.
But if you don’t, we will keep arming Ukraine, and whoever else is willing to resist you.
And we will provide better weapons, even start sending planes, whatever it takes to defeat you.
Because we don’t think your brutality will ever stop. It appears to not be in you to do so.
The rest of the world will have to learn how to live without your oil and gas and other commodities. So we will invent. We will create.
By now we know that if we give up in Ukraine, we will give up in Poland, or in Rumania or in Finland or Sweden or wherever else.
So go ahead and make all the threats you want.
We are ready for them. For we will keep arming Ukraine until we win this war.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Putin:’God is with Me!’

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He is in his bunker somewhere near Moscow. Various video monitors mounted on the wall are showing footage of the damage done by the attack of two Ukrainian helicopters on Belgorod, Russian territory located just north of Kharkiv.
‘They attacked Russian soil! How dare they!’
The video shows several oil tanks in flames.
‘Attacking my land, my sacred grounds!’
Putin trembles in his rage.
‘What happened to our air defenses? How was this possible? If they did it once, they will do it again!’
He is standing in front of his desk, looking in disbelief at the video of the attack being replayed.
‘Zelensky will pay for this. Once I capture him, because I will do that, I will put him on trial. And he will pay. The world will be clamoring for me to be merciful but I will not.’
Putin slams his fist on the table.
‘What the hell happened to my army? I’ve spent years and years building it up and now they don’t deliver. Who is responsible? I’m having to call up more and more men for military service. I’m having to ask Syrian fighters to join in to kill Ukrainians. I’m having to call up the Wagner group too.’
He shakes his head slowly as he looks down at the table.
‘It doesn’t look good… me… Vladimir Putin… asking Assad for help.’
He rubs his face.


‘Will I even conquer all of Ukraine? How can I live with myself with less than total control over it?’
He sits down, the mood despondent.
‘I was wrong… instead of riding victorious into Kyiv… instead of people calling my name in adoration… throwing flowers at my armored limousine, I’m now looking at the possibility of having to negotiate a peace treaty. With a comedian! Me, a great political leader! Oh, the irony of it all. What a twist of fate!’
He leans forward in his chair, clasping his hands, the anger palpable and a growing sense of self reproach.
‘It’s the fault of the Americans. Yes… Biden. Him. And I made too much of Trump… thinking that he represented America… thinking that he was the epitome of their decline… that the January 6th assault on the capitol was a clear sign they were rotten to the core… weak… morally dissolute… reveling in vice.’


He stands abruptly and walks a few paces then stops for a moment. Something is deeply wrong. He returns to his desk, presses a button on a console and images of him addressing a crowd of adoring fans at a stadium in Moscow appear on the screens.
The sight eases his tension as if hope had returned.
‘No. I’m okay. I’m all right. They still love me. God has not abandoned me. God is with me. And I will redouble my efforts. I will conquer all of Ukraine. And I will force the West to take my rubles for our oil.’
He laughs loudly, feeling victorious.
‘That was a great strategy of mine. How I made Europe dependent on our oil and gas. How I made them kneel for it. Brilliant.’


But his expression now turns somber.
‘Can I recover…? In the eyes of the world… can I redeem myself? In the eyes of China, can I, once again, look strong?’
He shakes his head slowly… in disbelief… as if acknowledging the loss.
‘Is this the beginning of my end… with the whole world watching? No… it can’t be.’
He reaches for the console and switches back on images of his troops and tanks riding into Ukraine on February 24th, the first day of the invasion.
He smiles with relief.
‘There it is… my power… Russia’s power… it’s not gone… I see it… the fullness of my power… everybody sees it… I know it’s still there… it’s not gone away… it’s there… yes… it’s not over… it can’t be… I still have a hand to play… Putin is not gone…’
But he hesitates. Doubtful.
‘If it’s gone… really gone… then… I can still… yes…’
He turns around, away from the cameras, hands clenched into fists.
‘America will not defeat me. They will not. We will both go down in flames… and just who will stop me?’

Oscar Valdes Oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

The New Confidence of The West and The Need for Caution

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It took the Ukrainian invasion and the fierce resistance it has prompted, for the nations of Europe to stand firm with America against the barbarism of Putin. The Ukrainian people, long in the shadow of Russia, decided it had seen enough. It would not applaud the invading Russians but fight them. And fight them to the end.
That heroism has elicited a new vigor in the West.


The cruelty Putin has unleashed on the Ukrainian people will not go unpunished. It will not be forgotten.
The lies Putin has used to justify his actions will forever remind us of the lies all autocracies or dictatorships use to justify their oppression.
By virtue of the ubiquity of cameras the invasion and its consequences have been thoroughly documented, making it one of the most public wars. And that evidence will not be buried with the dead but forever stand to remind us of the price of freedom.
Putin, of course, has tried to hide all of it from his people. But his days are numbered.
The Russian people are now asking themselves, ‘is this violence not being inflicted on us too? By denying us freedom of speech and thought?’
And that stark reality will bring unease to their consciences and so move them to assert the fullness of their existences.


Sooner or later, Putin will fall. And it will be the Russian people who will bring him down.
He knows he is losing the war. He knows he has nowhere to go and hide. It is a matter of time before he is set aside by his own people.
China, meanwhile, has refused to condemn the invasion. But their leadership is accustomed to denying their own people their voice. What else could we expect from their autocrats?
The influx of weapons from the West has made a huge difference in the fierce Ukrainian resistance and so, too, the fact that the mighty Russian army has not been all that mighty.
Their advance has proven difficult and the likelihood is that it will need more and more resources to complete the conquest of Ukraine, raising the possibility that Russia will not have the capability of doing so.
A diminished Putin will be tempted to resort to chemical weapons and even nuclear ones.
This would escalate the war with uncertain consequences.


Earlier today, in Brussels for a meeting with NATO partners, a confident president Biden said that if Putin used chemical weapons against the Ukrainian people, NATO would respond.
Putin will likely challenge that position and use such weapons. The same way that Assad in Syria challenged president Obama’s drawing a red line intended to bar the weapons.
In our confidence, we must not forget caution.
Putin is a failed man but as long as his people don’t rebel against him, he can unleash horrible weapons.
So we must watch our language.
Putin has little to lose at this stage. But we do.
With this catastrophic performance, not only Ukraine but other nations now under his influence will turn toward the West. That, we can be confident about.
I say that Belarus is next.

Oscar Valdes, oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

For the Love of Russia

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The invasion will continue. I see no signs that Putin is about to relent.
The mounting number of dead and maimed, the growing destruction in Ukraine, will not stop him.
In his obstinacy – his unremitting cruelty – he is telling us that the West no longer matters to him.
He is counting on China for support. And on all those other countries that have chosen to side with them.
Putin’s actions are making clear the division in our world. On the one side China-Russia and their followers, on the other the West.
Meanwhile, shortages will worsen, inflation will increase while economic growth will likely decrease. For now.
But there’s always room for the unexpected.

Here’s Putin in his bunker on Sunday afternoon.
Just the day before he addressed a stadium filled with his supporters. He spoke to them for five minutes and reminded them of the absolute necessity of invading Ukraine. That nation was threatening all Russians. He was forced to act.
He is sitting at his desk. On the wall in front is an array of video monitors tracking the progress of the war. A bank of multi colored phones lies within easy reach.
On one of the screens the image of President Zelensky appears. It is a clip of Zelensky’s address to the British parliament a few days earlier. The audio is muted. Putin has replayed it several times already.


‘To be or not to be, he told them. What a joke. This man, this… nothing… that’s what he is, nothing at all, believes he can defy me. But I will squash him. No, not that… that’s too easy.
Instead, once I capture him, I will put him on trial for genocide against the Russian speaking people of Ukraine, and for being a Nazi. He says he’s Jewish, but I know he’s a Nazi.
How dare that man become a symbol of bravery while I, me, yes, Vladimir Putin, after all I’ve done, become a symbol of cruelty to the world. But it’s all disinformation. All of it. I am right, everyone else is wrong.
And I will kill, kill, kill until all of Ukraine is mine. Every corner of it.
Biden calls me a war criminal. What does he know.
I will join with China and together we’ll crush America.
But first… yes, first… I must have all of Ukraine, dead or alive. I don’t care.
My troops are now advancing again. And I’m firing more and more missiles, to destroy their towns and schools and hospitals. Everything that stands.
He wants to talk, says Zelensky. But there’s nothing to talk. I’ve already made it clear that I need total surrender. Everything.
And if he doesn’t surrender… if my army is not enough… then I’ll drop a bomb on Kyiv. A big, fat, nuclear bomb… and I’ll flatten that city. And I’ll demand an immediate unconditional surrender or I’ll drop a second nuclear bomb, on Lviv.
And Russians will love me… and the Chinese too… yes… they all will. And we’ll start all over again in Ukraine. Like the Japanese did. In fact, I’ll help write their new constitution’.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of St Petersburg, in the basement of an apartment building, a group of Russian officers have gathered in a secret meeting that is now drawing to a close.
There are seven officers gathered in a circle, facing each other. Three of them are women. The meeting was convened by officer Y7X – his code name – who now addresses the participants.
Officer Y7X – ‘His actions do not represent the essence of our country. We invaded on February 24th and we have not even seized Kyiv. Instead, we’re killing civilians, women and children. How are we going to explain this to our heirs? How will our nation explain it to history?
We are a strong and smart country. We were the first in space, we have made important contributions in the arts, in science, in industry, but under this man’s leadership we have come to worship weapons above all else and to lend support to dictators everywhere. We have lost our purpose’.
Officer Y9G – ‘It is the moment to act. We’re all conscious of what’s at stake. And the personal risks we run’.
Officer Y4M – ‘This may be the last time we see each other. But we have made our choices’.
Officer Y5Z – ‘We may yet prevent the use of chemical weapons or worse, of nuclear ones’.
Officer Y2Q – ‘The odds are against us succeeding, I believe we are all aware of that, and yet we know we must proceed. If we fail, we commit to not betraying each other’.
Officer Y8H – ‘Conscious as we are that, should we fail, the actions we are about to take may never be made public’.
Officer 76D – ‘And that neither our spouses nor our children will ever learn of them’.
Now officer Y7X stands and holding up his clenched fist says, ‘For Russia!’
They all stand and repeat in unison. ‘For Russia!’
Each officer embraces every other member of the group and one by one, with intervals of a few minutes, leave their location.

Oscar Valdes oscar.valdes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Mr Putin’s Fall Has Begun

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He thought it would be easy. Surround Ukraine with 200,000 soldiers, war planes, tanks and missiles, make threatening noises and gestures, and Ukrainians would look at each other and realize they had no chance. A nuclear superpower was demanding their surrender: give up their government and demilitarize. If not, they would be run over.

Accustomed to most Russians – not all – bowing to him and not protesting, Putin thought Ukrainians would respond the same way. After all, he had already taken Crimea from them in 2014, and they had been pushed back in the Donbas area.
Putin reasoned Ukrainians would be tired of war and would just stand by, perhaps even applaud as his troops rolled into Kyiv, unopposed.
He would then meet with their president, a former comedian, pat him on the back and put him on a bus to Poland.
There would be protests in the West but they would all calm down once they realized he could cut off their oil and gas supplies and hurt their pocketbooks.


But something different happened.
Ukrainians said, hell no! This is our land and we’ll defend it.
So Putin ordered the troops to move in, still hoping the sounds of the tanks and the roar of the jets would bring Ukrainians to their senses.
They did not.
What has followed has been an unbelievable story of courage and determination, with their president, Volodymyr Zelensky, committing to the task of leadership with great valor.
That amazing story has shaken the West out of their complacency and united them in support of Ukraine.


A divided EU-US alliance has found new vigor and a willingness to stand firm against the aggressor. Sanctions that were not enforced when Putin invaded Crimea, now had a devastating effect.
Just yesterday, Putin went on TV to tell Russians who still believe the story that Ukraine is a Nazi threat, to prepare for yet more hardships, as they contend with job losses, inflation and growing scarcities as a result of the sanctions.
Russia is now on the verge of defaulting on their debt.
The assets it holds in foreign banks, American and European, are frozen. They cannot be used to pay down Russia’s debt.


Putin spoke calmly, promising relief to his fellow Russians who believe they are on the right side of history.
But what I didn’t see in his expression was a trace of remorse.
The thousands of casualties, both Ukrainian and Russian, meant nothing to him.
The horror of the carnage doesn’t touch him.
He is, somehow, insulated from it.
Over 3 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to the West in search of safety – mothers with their children – while the men of fighting age stay behind to resist the barbaric Russian onslaught.
The thousands of dead and maimed don’t seem to weigh on Putin’s conscience.
How did that happen?


He first became prime minister in 1999 and has been in power ever since.
How is it possible that all the leaders he’s come in contact with over the years, didn’t get the essence of the man?
The ascent of Putin has been the failure of leadership in the West.
And the failure of the Russian people – not all – to not stand up against him.
But now the end is near.
The unceasing brutality he’s unleashed on Ukrainians has been seen by everybody, except Russians themselves, for they live in a censored bubble.
Where can he go hide?


China, in its remarkable denial of the extent of the savagery, has become his accomplice.
And Putin is counting on them to circumvent the sanctions.
But the West won’t be easily side stepped.
Putin has begun his fall but he remains a dangerous adversary.
Knowing that his end is near, he will not tolerate the defeat of his army and will resort to nuclear weapons if he thought it would spare him the embarrassment.
Will he fire a nuclear weapon on Kyiv? It is possible.
Will he fire several? He may.
Putin will not survive the scorn he has earned from the rest of humanity, but he may yet stay in power a while longer, until Russians choose to retire him.
The world is waiting.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

What Use Will the Sanctions Be After they Bomb Us?

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Said Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, a few days ago.
He is right.
The West has announced sanctions on two major Russian banks and on Russian debt after Putin’s troops entered the Donetsk and Lugansk ‘new’ republics in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine.

But the EU–US alliance is choosing to not announce what is to follow until the invader takes the next step.
To Putin, that smells of the West not being truly convinced of his intentions to take over the entire Ukraine.
The only firm deterrent to him would have been NATO’s troops on the ground, but since Ukraine is not a NATO member, that was never going to happen.

There is a clear difference in the motivations of the contending parties.
Putin has made up his mind to annex Ukraine.
The West, though committed to placing sanctions on him, is not quite clear on which ones to choose.
So Putin, who’s willing to dare and push his way through the entire country, East to West, North to South, is not deterred by them.

Regardless of Mr Biden’s firm efforts in addressing the crisis, Putin is calculating that the West’s lack of strong conviction owes to their needing to check with lots of nations to make sure no one member of the alliance is disproportionately burdened by any one sanction.
Putin, on the other hand, does not have to weigh any such considerations. He alone speaks for Russia, and therein lies his advantage.

It was a confidence booster for the West to hear that, upon starting the invasion, Germany had stepped up and stopped the certification of Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia to their northern shore. But as Putin’s troops run over Ukraine, what else will they agree on?

Putin seems to have no interest in diplomacy.

‘What use will the sanctions be after they bomb us?’


Zelensky sees, quite clearly, that Ukraine matters more to Putin than to the West.
Placing sanctions on Russia will also have an economic cost to the West but it is Ukraine that will pay dearly once they end up a vassal state.
Ukrainians know this is their fight. They know it will be Ukrainian blood that will be spilled.
Western principles will be invoked and sanctions placed on Russia to support such principles, but in the end the great fight will be fought by Ukrainians. It will be their parents and children and brothers and sisters who will die in defense of their land, paying with their flesh and blood the price to have a destiny of their own.


Putin is no grand strategist but a clever and vicious thug. He can spot weakness in an adversary and do what he needs to suit his needs.
Today, he is bent on grabbing a nation, capturing a people, subjecting it to his will.
We don’t know what he will want tomorrow.
Letting him know in advance what the sanctions are may be more effective than announcing them after his assaults. And though sanctions alone, however severe, will not deter him, they will inflict harm, which combined with Ukrainians’ courage to fight may prove decisive.

Ukrainians know it us up to them to bear the greater cost of the struggle.
And that surrender is not an option.

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Only a Dream, Mr Zelensky?

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Mr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, recently stated publicly, after a meeting with chancellor Scholz of Germany, that perhaps Ukraine’s desire to one day become part of NATO was only a dream.

Dear sir, now, more than ever, Ukraine needs to embrace her dream.

When Russians are growling at your borders, baring their teeth and threatening to devour you with their superior forces, Ukraine needs to embrace her dream.

When many in the world have rushed supplies to you so you can fight the good fight, Ukraine needs to embrace her dream.

We don’t know how this will end, but there have already been thousands of courageous Ukrainians who have given their lives in combat because they believed in their country’s dream.

This is not the time to hesitate.

While your country remains divided, a majority have spoken up and said they want to chart their own course in history. They have stepped up and said they do not want to live under the feet of a bully neighbor.

I read that many of your citizens have chosen to no longer speak in Russian and so affirm the Ukrainian language.

Ukrainians and Russians have shared a past but Ukrainians reject being chained and oppressed by them and wish to embrace the future as a separate nation.

To forge ahead on this uncertain path, the nation needs to dream.

You should not, as their leader, in a moment of great consequence, succumb to doubt. Russia is forcing a course upon you. They are not asking but compelling you to obey them.

They say that they feel threatened. But the West nor you have threatened Russia. It is an invention of theirs to grab more territory. An invention of a leader who wants more and more land under his authority.

In the face of overpowering forces, it is the dream your people harbor that will sustain the hope to fight on. It is the dream that will fuel the resistance against the intruders.

Mr Zelensky, time is running out. It may be that you are now living the last days of your presidency.

Let your people know, on any occasion you have, that you stand with the dream of a free Ukraine. That you will fight for it, and never bow to anyone who wishes to decide for you what your future should be.

Sir, you owe it to yourself, to your nation and to your children.

Long live a free Ukraine.

Oscar Valdes.  Oscarvaldes.net. anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

Biden’s Response to Putin

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Has been energetic and realistic. He has not looked at the 130,000 Russian troops amassed on Ukraine’s eastern flank and said to himself, ‘maybe they’ll go away.’

I understand that Biden’s characterizing such buildup as presaging an ‘imminent attack’ has unsettled Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, since the latter has his nation’s economy to manage, but to think that Russia’s military buildup is meant to merely kick off a war of nerves on Europe and America, is pure poppycock.

Putin wants to inflict harm on the West for what he sees as his diminished great power status, particularly in light of China’s rise.

Just 20 years ago China’s GDP was estimated to be $1.34 trillion while Russia’s was $306 billion. But in those two decades, China’s GDP has grown more than 13 times to become an $18 trillion economy while Russia’s has only gone up 5.5 times.  (2021 figures)

So China has zoomed past Russia and left them wondering, ‘what the hell just went by?’.

To make matters worse, all this has happened while Putin has been in power. So it is a great embarrassment for him and his nation, to be seen by the rest of the world as having been outclassed by their neighbor.

It has got to hurt Putin.

In his moments alone he has to wonder what didn’t he do to better direct the course of Russia.

He wishes he had had the daring to accomplish, steal, connive, do whatever worked, to rise as the Chinese have.

But he didn’t.

Meanwhile, the longing to be in the spotlight doesn’t go away. So what better way than to invent a crisis and claim that the West is a threat to him.

President Biden has seen right through it. He has not dithered. He’s acted promptly and is making every effort to get an incredulous Europe to face the facts. That to be dependent on Russia for energy is a horrible idea, in light of Putin’s predatory history.

Europe has been steeped in denial, which leads to timidity and so favor the notion that the threat to Ukraine is mere bluffing.

Putin is a wounded and vengeful man, who cannot blame anyone but himself for not releasing the considerable powers of Russia to reach as high as they can. Had Russians been allowed to be part of a market economy that embraced political freedoms, Russia would now be a leading economy. But it didn’t happen.

The blame falls squarely on Vladimir Putin.

He cannot live with that truth so he invents threats, hounds, imprisons or poisons dissidents, stokes a resistance movement in eastern Ukraine that has cost 14 thousand lives so far.

Oh, yes, he has modernized his Army and now has supersonic missiles. And gas and oil and wheat to export, but the potential of Russia, under his power, has been wasted.

He can’t face that truth so why not demonize the West instead.

And when Biden stands firm, Putin then talks of the West ‘goading’ him into invading Ukraine. Or he gets Xi Jinping to send a Chinese official to tell the West to ‘calm down.’

No. There’s no time for that.

Putin’s threat is real.

President Biden has had the wisdom to face it and should not relent one bit in his stance to confront Putin.

And Putin should think of stepping down. He has done enough harm.

Oscar Valdes    oscarvaldes.net.  apple and google podcasts, anchor.fm and buzzsprout