The proverbial ditch is looming for Vladimir Putin. Few dictators have an ego that can accept their own demise before it happens, which is why many end up in a ditch or, in the case of Gaddafi, a muddy culvert. When they have been in power for 22 years, their myopia and ego almost guarantees they will not see their destiny approaching.
Some dictators, like Idi Amin, are allowed to go into exile because a Special Forces operation to eliminate them just isn’t worth the cost. Putin, however, does not fall into that category. Equally, in the case of Putin, no-one in their right mind would send a Special Forces squad to take him out. The process has to be much more subtle and, indeed, more certain to succeed. The West has been bamboozled for far too long by his apparent adoption of a civilized façade. Recent events have put that myth firmly to bed permanently. He is a relic of the old Cold War and deserves to end up in the proverbial ditch.
At the risk of repeating myself from previous blogs, Putin was groomed to be KGB from an early age, and his cloaked rage, at the way the Cold War ended, has only intensified his fanatical commitment to restore Russia’s power, control and influence on the international stage. His real colors are finally showing and I just hope the West wakes up to that reality and acts accordingly and decisively. Certainly, the unified approach to sanctions this week is very encouraging.
Sanctions from the EU, US were to be expected, although not guaranteed but, just this morning (February 25th), the deluge of other announcements indicate that most people and governments around the world are appalled by Putin’s actions, and are falling in line to condemn his actions: Cancelling the Russian Formula I Grand Prix maybe insignificant in itself but combined with banning Aeroflot from the UK, confiscating a Russian ship by France, and Germany’s stoppage of the gas pipeline from Russia, as well as many other cancellations must have some effect. However, there remains the problem of forcing Putin to disappear, and as quickly as possible. He is unlikely to go of his own accord. Wishful thinking won’t make it happen.
Somewhat surprisingly, some of the sanctions coming out of the US, the EU and the UK may indicate that some coordinated solid strategies are in place to achieve his demise. Has planning for the proverbial ditch begun.
One of the reports I listened to this past week mentioned that Putin does not have a bank account and that most of his assets are not in his name. That is an opportunity that the allies seem to be following. I read a report over a year ago which claimed Putin was worth over $75 billion in assets scattered everywhere. That will take a lot of time to track, let alone attack. However, I think there is one major Achilles Heel, which the Allies seem to be addressing, thank god.
The Russian Oligarchs, who back Putin, have been the architects, and beneficiaries, of his thievery and corruption for many years. However, they have diversified their own assets by removing them from Russia, and that makes them vulnerable. Historically, Russians have had more practice than most at making people disappear.
If the West can really hurt the Oligarchs individually, and make it clear why they are doing it, eventually they will turn on Putin to protect their own interests. As I said, Russians are past masters at making people disappear and they have a vast, virtually empty country, in which to do so. They won’t need the proverbial ditch, or a culvert. Frozen tundra would leave no trace whatsoever.
However, the West has to be careful about what happens afterwards. A new Russian President could be worse.
Finally, I think we should be very, very cognizant of how China is viewing the Ukraine invasion, and the West’s reaction to it, as it ponders its own plans to invade Taiwan. My guess is that Xi Jinping will bid his time until after the 2024 US Presidential elections before acting. He can afford to wait that long to see if the US results give him an advantage.