2023 has arrived. We all want to begin the new year with rosy predictions about the future, but it’s risky to daydream when the war in Ukraine is raging on. We can’t afford to underestimate Russia. And we can party like crazy when Russia is finally defeated.

The world has dodged the nuclear annihilation bullet twice: first, with the Cuban Missile Crisis and then, on Sep. 26 1983, when Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov judged the report of five missiles launched from the U.S. to be a false alarm, likely saving the world from total destruction.

Will we manage to avoid a nuclear holocaust for the third time? Hopefully.

We’re in the final showdown with Russia. No more pretending and no more meandering. It’s either us or Russia. And it’s critical not to underestimate Russia until it’s been totally defeated.

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Russia remains an extremely dangerous enemy for several reasons. Its President, Vladimir Putin could order a strike on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant; he could order his agents to infect Ukrainian refugees headed to Poland with a deadly virus; or he could order a cyberattack to cripple EU airports. He could even order an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, collapsing the functionality of the Ukrainian electrical network.

And yes – Russia wants to attack Poland. 

The Russian empire is overrated

While it’s reassuring that Russians can’t gather an attack force of any significance near the Polish border, Russia can resort to other tactics to destabilize Poland. In an interview with Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, a former head of military counterintelligence claimed that Russian agents are already here in Poland.

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The United States has been the chief military backer of Ukraine in its war against Russia, but Congress had not approved large-scale funding for its ally for nearly a year and a half.

General Pytel asserted that Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice, the ruling party) has been infiltrated by Russia. It’s a controversial statement, to say the least. There’s no doubt the Kremlin is trying to infiltrate the Polish government, but Pytel might be best not making bold accusations without producing evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

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No one in their right mind would want to willingly join the so-called Russian empire. Empty shelves, worthless currency, minders watching you abroad, drunkenness, groupthink, gray buildings, and a snitch culture go with the territory.

We don’t need your protection, Russia. Poland and Ukraine aren’t damsels in distress in need of saving. Besides, we’re already protected by the U.S.

In response to that I can already hear derisive Russian laughter all the way here in Warsaw.

‘’We saved you from the Nazis and this is how you repay us?’’

‘’You’re a U.S. colony, just like Germany! It’s time to denazify you.’’

‘’You’re traitors! Why can’t we just be a Slavic family?’’

Resorting to name calling. That’s all Russia has ever done.

Russia will never be a superpower

Why is the U.S. an empire and Russia merely a local power? Russia belongs to a civilization that doesn’t respect human rights. Collectivism is the rule in Russia. Conversely, the U.S., with all its flaws, is built on individual freedom. The U.S. attracts foreigners and gives them an opportunity to change the world. Take Polish scientist Stanisław Ulam as an example. Had he stayed in Poland before the Second World War, he wouldn’t have participated in the creation of a hydrogen bomb as part of the Los Alamos Laboratory nuclear project. Can you imagine Ulam going to Russia and having the same opportunities? Me neither.

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The so-called Russian empire calls itself the Third Rome. What a joke. Russia knows only gulags and Kafkaesque show trials. Okay, and the ‘’glorious’’ Red Army and Sputnik, I’ll give them that. Except, the ‘’glorious’’ Red Army won’t help Russia’s reputation ruined by the Ukraine war.

And glorious isn’t the right word here, either. In 1944-45, the Red Army pillaged towns and villages across Poland as the Soviets marched on Germany. As always, the Russians overstayed their welcome in Poland. Russian soldiers stayed in my country until Sep. 17 1993, the day when Lech Wałęsa shook hands with the last Soviet soldier on Polish soil. The world needs leaders like Lech Wałęsa in 2023.

Russia is only great in the minds of the deluded Russian masses. Not even Russian propagandists believe in Russian exceptionalism. Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov laughs at his own propagandist nonsense behind closed doors while the poor and stupid Russian masses hang onto his every word. Solovyov doesn’t care about Russia. He only cares about money. He isn’t even a true Russian patriot – he just plays one on TV. Solovyov will be on the first plane out of Russia as soon as he knows Russia has lost.

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The best-case scenario

Ukraine is going to win the war, but the cost will be high. Desperate and enraged, Putin might even use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, most likely when his waves of soldiers aka cannon fodder fail to capture Kyiv and missile strikes fail to terrorize Ukrainians.

Putin wasn’t planning on using nukes. He really thought Ukraine was all going to be his after three days. But now, he’s looking increasingly weak. And we know what happens to weak leaders in Russia. Pushing the nuclear button is the only way to reassert dominance, showing the world and his Russian rivals he means business. I sincerely hope U.S. President Joe Biden is wrong and Putin’s craziness won’t escalate into a full-blown nuclear war.

If (hopefully not when) Putin were to launch a tactical nuke, a conventional NATO strike on the Russian military in Ukraine would surely follow, maybe even on Russian territory, decapitating the Kremlin leadership. The new Russian leader would then agree to withdraw from Ukraine, including Crimea, and Russia would be left humiliated and defeated. There could even be a NATO presence in Russia to avoid a total collapse of the Russian state and secure the nuclear arsenal. Imperial Russia would be no more. With its military emasculated, Russia would be a guilt-ridden, pariah state for generations. Not even China would take it seriously anymore.

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NATO would lose all credibility if it didn’t strike Russian forces should Putin use a tactical nuke in Ukraine. Expressing “grave concern” would only make NATO look like a joke to Russia and the world, emboldening every tinpot dictator on the planet. The consequences for world order would be catastrophic. Ukraine needs our unwavering support to keep the orcs at bay. It’s a matter of global security.

Striking Moscow

Ukraine has every right to strike Moscow. In fact, striking Moscow could discourage Putin from using nuclear weapons. Crazy logic, I know, but Russia isn’t a normal nation. Force is the only thing it understands and respects.

Ukraine striking Moscow would both infuriate and impress Russia, making Putin think twice about using nukes. And, if Putin wants to use tactical nuclear weapons, he’ll use them anyway – no logical reason needed.

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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