It was gathered that the Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a long speech, made clear today that he has chosen war. He went to war against Ukraine in 2014; now he has declared war against the international order for the past 30 years.
Even discounting Putin’s delivery, the speech was, in many places, simply unhinged. He accused Ukraine, for example, of developing nuclear weapons, a play right out of the old Soviet handbook, when Kremlin leaders would accuse former West Germany of developing nuclear arms to serve their “revanchist” plans for war. And also accused Bill Clinton of denigrating him personally when Putin asked, more than 20 years ago, about the possibility of including Russia in NATO. Among the Russian president’s various other quirks, the man knows how to hold a grudge.
It was stated that Putin then suggested that international sanctions are “blackmail”. “There is only one goal,” Putin said. “To restrain the development of Russia. And they will do it, as they did before. Even without any formal pretext at all.”
It was also gathered that Putin left no room for negotiation with the Biden administration. He is prepared for sanctions, which he says will come no matter what Russia does. He asserts that Western hostility is permanent (perhaps because it would be too painful to his ego to admit that most people in the West if given the choice, would not think about Russia or its leaders at all).
In short, it was gathered that Putin is now embracing a Russian tradition of paranoia, an inferiority complex that sees Moscow as both a savior of other nations and a victim of great conspiracies, a drama in which Russia is both strong enough to be feared and weak enough to be threatened.
Back here on Earth, however, we have a more pressing problem. At the end of his speech, Putin recognized the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, the “people’s republics” of Lugansk and Donetsk, as independent entities.
Literally within minutes of completing his television address, it was said that Putin sent “peacekeepers” into eastern Ukraine.
That “defense” could lead right into the streets of Kyiv. Putin demanded in his address, as he has before, that Ukraine “cease hostilities” in these areas and he also warned that “all responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling on the territory of Ukraine.”