How does Putin appear in a liberal, democratic and civilized world?

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. This is the name of one of the most famous graphics of Goya from the series “Caprichos”.

Caprichos, by the way, means caprices; today, by some whim of history, we live in a time when the dream of reason gives birth to monsters. One of them is known as Vladimir Putin.

On the agenda is the question of whose mind slept while this monster was born. The answer is short and ruthless: ours. In the liberal, democratic and civilized world. Who, alas, has a disastrous reflex – to accept the desired as real. It was because of this reflex that no one believed that Putin would invade Ukraine. The belief that he is a man like everyone else, and that he lives in the 21st century, is a bad joke. As a result of the same belief, half of Europe has allowed itself to be energy dependent on its gas and oil pipelines, without being able to see them as pipes aimed at our common future.

He is not a human being like everyone else, nor does he live in the 21st century. He is the crossroads between the KGB and the Russian thugs – there is nothing human in either category. Inhabits the temporal spaces of Ivan the Terrible and Stalin – at the same time.

We should have known that a long time ago. Even when his current right-hand man, Nikolai Patrushev, organized the bombing of apartment buildings to justify the second war in Chechnya. When this war razed Grozny and wiped out half the Chechens. When he began the practice of creating “people’s republics” in neighboring countries, secretly led by his green men. When he invaded Georgia. When they killed Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov, an unknown number of others disagreed with his regime. When they poisoned Litvinenko and Skripal. When he annexed Crimea and created the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, to start a war against Ukraine in 2014, which did not stop, it only entered a new, hotter phase. When he stood behind Satrap Bashar Assad and helped him regain territory, destroying millions of cities, such as Aleppo.

We should have known and remembered all this – but we forgot it. We decided that Russia is a normal country with which one can do business, negotiate, and maintain diplomatic relations. No, it is not. It has not been for a long time. Because normality is also a responsibility, and there is no such thing in this case. By the way, it is missing not only because of the inexplicable atrocities in Ukraine, because of the war crimes, because of the genocide committed there (how else to define what is happening in Mariupol – sharing today the fate of Grozny and Aleppo?). It is missing because of the complete disregard for the fate of the planet and humanity.

Is there evidence? Here they are this week, the Russian military is simulating a nuclear missile attack. The targets are Berlin, Paris, and London. It is calculated in how many seconds these targets will be hit. Not for much – between two and a little over three minutes for each of them. Shortly before that, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the testing of the intercontinental ballistic missile “Sarmat”, capable of carrying ten nuclear warheads. Putin warned NATO and EU countries that they could expect a lightning response if they intervened in the war in Ukraine, and more than hinted that he could use nuclear weapons.

At the same time, his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, explained what the Kremlin meant by interfering in the war: “When NATO enters the war with Russia through a de facto deputy and sends weapons to its deputy, then one does what is done in war.” He announced that there was a danger of an outbreak of World War III – stressing that the situation today was more serious than during the Caribbean crisis. In response, NATO said there was no real danger of a nuclear conflict and that military aid to Ukraine would continue. Hopefully, this time we will not take what we want for granted.

Of course, the most likely hypothesis of Russia’s jingling of nuclear weapons is that it is a bluff. Putin cannot help but know that even if he starts the nuclear conflict first, his country will be destroyed anyway. However, there is a minimal probability that this is not just a bluff aimed at cutting off military aid to Ukraine. The extreme tension in today’s situation is because Putin simply cannot afford to back down – because if he does, it would mean the end of his rule – an inglorious end, which is unacceptable for a messianic man.

He has to win – or at least imitate victory, he simply has no choice. And after his “military operation” sinks, he has to come up with something else. For this “other” there are two options: a low-power nuclear attack within Ukraine (for example, against Kyiv) or an extension of the conflict (for example, against Moldova, which, unlike Ukraine, can indeed be overrun in a matter of days). Then what God has given.

And then the question comes to the fore – how will NATO react to such a development? Maybe he will stick to today’s thesis that he will not send troops so as not to provoke World War III? I hope he is a bad prophet, but it seems to me that if Putin succeeds in this war, World War III is inevitable. He will not stop in Ukraine, he will not stop in Moldova. Encouraged that everyone is afraid of his nuclear weapons, he will simply continue – with aggression against the Baltic states or perhaps – against Bulgaria, which has meanwhile proved to be the most hesitant and weak member of the Alliance, with a powerful fifth column empowered at the presidential level.

I suppose many will argue that such behavior by Russia is against logic and its interests. Contradicts, yes. But the start of the war in Ukraine contradicts them. It is not a normal state – it is a despotism whose population is highly zombies – in any case enough so that it cannot be expected to challenge the decisions of the authorities. By the way, in his article “The Deregulation of Russia” Kalin Yanakiev more than clearly showed that the nuclear crackdown is not just a delusion of Putin – apparently this delusion has spread to the “broad masses”.

Apart from all this, there is a very special question – about the mental health of the Russian leader. Is Putin crazy? Yes, perhaps, if messianic revanchism can be considered insanity. However, when it comes to the beginning of a huge country and with access to the nuclear button, messianism is even more dangerous than madness. What would happen, for example, if this man, who believed that he had to restore the greatness of the Russian Empire, saw that he was unable to do so? What will be his choice then? Will he simply come to terms with his defeat – or will he say, as he has already said, “What good is it to us if Russia is not in it?”

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