We are now in the third year of a full-blown Russo-Ukrainian war (the primary front of World War 4) and Putin has suffered a decisive defeat on the most crucial level of this global confrontation – the psychological. His most effective strategic tool over many years – nuclear blackmail – is no longer producing the desired results.

When the leader of a nuclear power threatens to use his country's nuclear weapons in pursuit of a localized geopolitical objective, there are two possible motives at play.  

Number one – he is a suicide Shahed drone, actually willing to carry out a nuclear strike that kills millions of people. He is then also willing to die along with millions of his countrymen after the retaliatory strike is launched. (We will reach the pearly gates while they will simply drop dead).

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The other motive – he is a calculating terrorist who realizes that the other side possesses a no less powerful arsenal of nuclear weapons.  But he thinks this other side will blanch at the prospect of killing millions of people and make concessions within the framework of a discrete political conflict by meeting any demands put on the table.  This will eventually result in the other side retreating from the world stage forever.

That exact scenario has played out over the past 15 years or so. After Russian troops invaded Georgia, annexed Crimea, and then committed large-scale war crimes in Ukraine, the West placed artificial restrictions on the real military aid it was willing to provide in the form of cowardly red lines: “Under no circumstances must we allow this conflict to escalate and turn into a pan-European war. We must avoid confronting a nuclear power.”

The Conservative Trap: How Putin’s Russia Misleads the Right
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The Conservative Trap: How Putin’s Russia Misleads the Right

American Christians and conservatives have been fooled by Putin’s strongman posture, mistaking ruthlessness for moral fortitude. The miscalculation could spell disaster for the US.

As winter came to a close in 2024, these were the sentiments that held sway in Washington.  These sentiments, coupled with a months-long hold on US weapons shipments to Ukraine, almost resulted in the Rashists breaching the Ukrainian front.  The strategic threat that this breach would have posed to the West as a whole forced the Free World to mobilize. 

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The world witnessed two conceptual revolutions unfold at once. 

President Macron of France led one in Europe while in the US, it was the leaders of the Reagan wing of the Republican party (McCaul, Rogers, Turner) who played the decisive role. Together they managed, in the spring of 2024, to fundamentally alter the political and psychological posture of the Free World's confrontation with Putin and his terrorists.

The West's present stance on the war is best reflected by the themes and statements expressed when Allied leaders met recently in Normandy:  “Putin is the Hitler of our time.”

The natural outgrowth of such a narrative is the West's determination to deliver a decisive defeat to Hitlerite Russia on the battlefield in Ukraine.  For this to happen, the West needs to remove every restrictive red line it imposed on itself.

Remember, Putin became a laughing stock by relying too much on empty nuclear threats. As NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg stated a few days ago, “It seems every day Putin is blowing someone up with a nuclear weapon.”

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Macron made sure to remind Putin, however, that France is also a nuclear power. He also brightened the Russian leader’s day by informing him that French service members are already taking part in combat activities in Ukraine by maintaining the SCALP missile systems that France provided. 

The West pursued this line of thought by developing and promoting a transparent and convincing scenario for Ukraine to deliver a decisive defeat to the enemy's alignment of forces at the war’s center of gravity (cf. Clausewitz) – the Crimean peninsula.   

All this news has hit the Putin worshippers and fanatical Z-patriots like a ton of bricks in recent weeks.  We have seen a new sentiment spread like a forest fire among this group of late – a sentiment that poses a great danger to Putin's political future – “The Tsar is not real!”

Putin is aware of this danger and will have to radically shift his goalposts.  He no longer has the makings of Master of the Universe.  He is faced now with an existential (in the most literal sense) problem – how to remain in power in a country that has just lost a war. 

There is only one way to solve this problem and that is to prevent the fall of Crimea, a circumstance that would prove disastrous for Putin personally.  He badly needs to retain significant parts of Ukrainian territory (including Crimea) for his Reich, something he will try to do via political machinations through his agents in the West. If successful, Putin would then be able to sell this outcome to his people as a kind of respectable draw, one achieved despite the rampant thievery and treason of many top generals.  

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But now, after Normandy, things have changed.  There is not a single elected politician in the West willing to grant this dictator such a favor.  And so we see him turning in desperation to play his final card:  Donald Trump.  

And then Trump pops up out of nowhere with his advisors’ plan to end the war.  What's more – he empathizes to such a degree with his embattled friend Vlad that he promises to enact his wonderful plan not on Jan. 21, 2025, but, earlier, on Nov. 5, 2024!

Trump has puzzled observers more than once with his Putinophilia, an affinity that does not seem to be backed by any rational motive.  Perhaps the answer to the riddle lies in their notorious joint performance in Helsinki on July 16, 2018. 

After a two-hour, one-on-one meeting, the two world leaders emerged, one sneering like the lowlife little thug that he is and the other, much taller, appearing somewhat groggy.  Of the tens of millions of viewers watching from home, not a single one could have doubted which of the two was the alpha male and which was experiencing a deep psychological dependence on his counterpart.

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P.S.  Biden disastrous performance at last night’s debates probably sharply increased Trump’s chances to return to the White House. That means only that The Deep Free World (led by Macron, McCall, Roger, Turner) should execute its Ukraine Victory scenario before Nov. 5, 2024.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post. 

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