Isolated, paranoid, immensely enriched by money stolen from his own people, Vladimir Putin struck out in true mafia boss style with his attack on Ukraine. There has been immense human suffering since the latest invasion began on Thursday morning, and, sadly, there is very much more in store.
There have been crumbs of comfort. The bravery and resilience of Ukrainians in the face of Putin’s onslaught of death and destruction has been truly inspiring, and not unexpected, given what’s at stake. They are fighting for democracy, freedom, their own lives and the future of their children.
Putin, it seems, has started to believe his own fabrications about neo-Nazis being at the helm of government in his southern Slavic neighbour. He may have been unpleasantly surprised by the tough resistance his invading troops are facing.
I am not a great fan of social media, but its ability to act as an alternative medium for the delivery of news – when the traditional media has been hijacked by the regime – has been shown to be very effective in the last few days in bringing thousands of Russians onto the streets to demonstrate against the attack on Ukraine. Facing arrest and brutality from the forces of law and order, these people deserve the wildest praise.
However, it remains to be seen for how long Russia’s social media platforms will be allowed to function.
Meanwhile, Navalny was able to repeat his message about the oligarchy and the people’s stolen assets, thanks to the inefficiency of Russia’s penal system that gave him a platform at his latest court hearing.
The attack on Ukraine is one man’s war, and without that man this would not have happened. What will take him down? An assassination seems unlikely. My hope is that the Russians themselves will bring about a change of regime, which is why the sanctions against Moscow need to be as tight and as tough as they can be. As a UK tabloid newspaper said on Thursday; ‘Grab him by the roubles.’
Of course, ordinary Russians will suffer terrible hardships if sanctions really bite, but that is as nothing compared to the existential misery their leader has inflicted on Ukraine and the Ukrainians. If this is what it takes to get rid of the killer in the Kremlin, some good will have come out of this fratricidal conflict.
Any views expressed by Jeff Daniels do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers. The author worked as a journalist in central and Eastern Europe from 1992 until 2008.
PHOTO: A Russian missile launcher knocked out of action close to Kyiv Reuters