Putin appears remarkably lost in his unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine. He seems to be heading for complete failure. Like Hitler, he is commanding his troops personally. Stalin was smarter, delegating that to professional generals. Putin insists that Russian troops stay put in Kherson and Lyman, where they are like sitting ducks, likely to be either slaughtered or taken prisoner.

Many Western observers are calling for negotiations and an end to the war through a benevolent settlement with Putin, but that is not an option. Few Ukrainians would accept such a policy, and no one would survive politically, because unlike such Western observers, Ukrainians have learned that Putin will start a new war once he has recuperated. Therefore, Putin and Russia must be thoroughly beaten. Exactly as in World War II, compromise is not an option. The more outrageous Putin becomes, the stricter Ukrainian and Western conditions must be.

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The mobilization is possibly Putin’s biggest mistake since starting this war. Now, the whole of Russia is likely to be politically and economically destabilized. Will he survive? I doubt it. As if to upset the West, he and his propagandists threaten Ukraine and the West with nukes. He impermissibly blows up the defunct Nord Streams. Fortunately, Putin’s threats lack credibility. He has already destroyed most of Russia’s military might, which turned out to be slight. However, should Putin use nukes, the United States has made clear that it would respond adequately, and Putin would not survive such a mistake.

Ukraine Says Still Fighting on Dnipro River Left Bank
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Ukraine Says Still Fighting on Dnipro River Left Bank

Ukraine's military spokesman Dmytro Lykhoviy said on state TV that Ukrainian forces are active on the left bank of the Dnipro, with main positions in Krynky heavily damaged by enemy fire.

The two wobbliest Western states all along have been Germany and France. They remain confused. While their spines seem to be growing, their authority has declined. Does Putin really think that they are so weak and foolish as to turn away from the West because he is proving every day that Russia is terrorist state? I don’t think so. I would rather expect Western resistance to Putin to solidify even more. He is too irresponsible to rule any country.

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But the West needs to shape up. October could deliver a tipping point in the war. The weather in Ukraine tends to be lovely in October. The Ukrainian forces are engaged in a broad offensive, while the Russian troops are demoralized and decimated. The mobilization only seems to have disorganized them further as poor Russians will now be used as cannon fodder. At this time, the West should deliver all the weapons Ukraine needs to defeat Russia as soon as possible.

Ukraine requires not only arms but also funding. The Ukrainian state budget needs $5 billion in external financing each month to compensate for lost state revenues because of the 30-35 percent lower GDP. The United States is admirably paying its due in grants, but the EU needs to catch up. So far, it has only delivered $2.3 billion of credits from its $10.3 billion of macro-financial assistance. This support needs at least to double this year, and be speeded up and transformed into grants. As a result of the minimal EU funding, Ukraine’s inflation rose to 23.8 percent year-over-year in August.

The first Ukrainian condition is to receive all its territory back, that is, not only what Russia has seized this year, but also Crimea and the part of Donbas that Russia occupied in 2014. Russia has already revoked the agreed 2010 lease of Sevastopol, so the city and naval base have to go back to Ukraine.

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Naturally, Ukraine demands that all Ukrainian citizens who have been kidnapped and deported by Russia receive the right to return to Ukraine and all the deported children must be returned.

Ukraine also demands full war reparations for all the damage Russia has caused to their country. This will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. The best way to extract such war reparations from Russia is to confiscate the $300 billion of Russian Central Bank reserves being held in seven Western central banks and allocate them for Russian war reparations for Ukraine.

The West must also organize prosecution of all Russian war criminals either in the International Criminal Court in The Hague or in an alternative court especially designed for this purpose. Russia’s right of veto in the UN Security Council cannot stop such a process.

Since Putin lies all the time and has violated every agreement he or Russia has concluded, he is a war criminal that no decent person should even talk to. As was the case with Hitler, no peace agreement can be concluded with Putin. The West needs to countenance this fact and demand the ouster of Putin. The West needs to treat Putin the way Winston Churchill treated Hitler: No talks, only unconditional surrender! A natural first step would be to declare Russia a sponsor of state terrorism. No state deserves that label more than Putin’s regime. All sanctions must be maintained until Russia has fulfilled all conditions.

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While Putin is a ruthless sadist and hedonist, he is no fool. Suddenly, he has realized how weak and vulnerable he is. In his televised address to the Russian Federation on Sept. 21, he stated remarkably: “The goal of … the West is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country … In 1991 they managed to split up the Soviet Union and now is the time to do the same to Russia …”

Suddenly, Putin has set aside his imperialist dreams, as he seems to understand that he has endangered Russia itself: “The issue concerns the necessary, imperative measures to protect the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia … Some Western elites … continue to aggressively force their will and pseudo-values …” To my knowledge, Putin had never worried about Russia’s sovereignty before this.

Russia must be defeated and now is the time to do so. The faster that is done, the better for all (but Putin).

Anders Åslund’s latest book is “Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy.”

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

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