Can There Be Any Doubt?
Russia is losing the war in Ukraine and the troll farms and the denial machine continue to tell the same lies. Why is anyone listening to them?
For anyone who has been following events in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began back in February, a certain pattern has been obvious. Russia’s “special operation” to invade Ukraine, “de-Nazify” it’s politics, and seize all regions identified as part of “Novorossiya” haven’t exactly been going to plan. The Ukrainian people have put up an unrelenting resistance, President Zelensky has rallied the nation, and Russian forces have suffered a string of humiliating defeats.
Naturally, the situation has been a political nightmare for Vladimir Putin, who was clearly counting on a quick victory to cement his power (which has been faltering lately). And, of course, the Kremlin propaganda machine has been working overtime to try and create a counter-narrative that claims the war is going well, Zelensky is a Nazi, and people are thriving in the territories Russia now occupies. Anything else, they say, is “western propaganda.”
For starters, these claims are a classic example of totalitarian deflection, something China, Russia (and the Soviets), and other dictators have done for a century. Putin draws from this well every time he is caught committing criminal acts, like poisoning political opponents, and whistle blowers, jailing journalists, or invading neighboring countries. As knee-jerk tactic’s go, it’s right up there with his “whatabout the U.S.?” and “I’ve got better things to do than murder my enemies.” More importantly, Russia’s claims are blatantly contradicted by the situation on the ground.
Twice now, Russia has been forced to retreat after they failed to take a major objective. The first occurred two months into their campaign when their northern offensive failed to take Kyiv. A column of Russian armor that stretched for 64 km (40 mi) and was spaced three-vehicles wide was descending on the capital. In keeping with Russian tactics, this was a brute force assault preceded by artillery, rockets, and air strikes —a strategy they’ve followed since World War II.
The purpose of this offensive was obvious. While the other advances moved in from the East to claim territory occupied by Russian-speaking peoples, the northern offensive aimed to seize the Ukrainian govenment’s seat of power and remove Zelensky from office. This was clearly what Putin meant when he said he wanted to “de-Nazify” Ukraine. In short, he wanted to take out Zelensky and replace him with a puppet leader similar to Viktor Yanukovych.
However, a combination of tenacious resistance, ambushes, equipment failures, a lack of proper supplies, incompetent leadership, and brazen arrogance resulted in defeat. The Russian forces began abandoning their vehicles, surrendering to locals, and beat a hasty retreat. This incident, more than anything, exposed how unprepared and overconfident the Russian forces — and indeed, Putin himself — had been. It also laid bare the ineptitude of Putin’s leadership, which consists of appointing the “oligarchs” that make up his inner circle into positions they are not qualified for.
But of course, Moscow denied everything and claimed that the operation was merely a “feint” designed to probe Ukraine’s defenses and draw their troops away from the eastern sector. They were withdrawn as the resistance proved stiff, and the forces were needed for operations elsewhere. As I said, this narrative was blatantly contradicted by the situation on the ground. These showed this to not only be a lie, but a really bad one at that!
For starters, the offensive towards the Ukraine was hardly a feint. Military feints take place alongside other offensives, which the Russians were not conducting. In the eastern sector, they had moved into territories already claimed by pro-Russian separatists. The so-called “operations elsewhere” they were needed for, which apparently alluded to the offensive on Kharkiv, did not commence in earnest until March. This coincided with Russia’s second failed attempt to achieve a breakthrough and take Kyiv.
What’s more, Putin’s reaction made the truth blatantly obvious. After the failure to take Kyiv, he ordered that 20 Russian generals be arrested for allegedly embezzling 10 billion from funds earmarked for the war. By mid-July, deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov — who served as Deputy Minister of Defence between 2018–2022 and oversaw Russia’s weapons industries — was dismissed from his position. Later that month, several more generals were “purged” from their positions. Do these sound like the actions of a dictator who’s happy with the way the war is going?
And now, Russia is once again retreating after failing to take a major objective, and the Kremlin is claiming that the withdrawal was planned and intentional (aka. “we meant to do that.”) This is the second time Russian forces are in full retreat and ceding territory to Ukrainian forces. And yet, they’d have us believe that’s what they were going for? Is it their intention to merely shell and bomb Ukrainian civilians, because that’s what they keep resorting to whenever they fail.
Update: Since I penned this article, the situation has become only more dire and desperate for Putin and his forces. After defeating Russia’s major offensives near Kyiv and Kharkiv, the Ukrainian army have launched a counter-offensive. This included counter-offensives in the south and northeast that liberated the Kharkiv region in September and Kherson in November, forcing the Russians to withdraw to the east bank of the Dnieper River.
Ukrainian refugees who were displaced during the first six months of the war have even been returning to their country since the summer to join the fight. Meanwhile, Russia is experiencing personnel shortages, prompting Putin to declare a disastrous conscription policy (causing millions of Russians to become refugees) and even declare that convicted criminals would be forced to serve.
Alas, as I said, the Kremlin’s propaganda — and all those naive or disingenuous enough to repeat it —insists that anyone who believes they are losing have been duped by the western media, which is attempting to paint them in a bad light. The hypocrisy of these claims is rivaled only by how factually-challenged they are. Not only has Moscow been pumping out a laughable campaign designed to paint Zelensky and the Ukrainian people as Nazis (going so far as to create revisionist histories of World War II) but their defeat is painfully obvious.
Oh, and let’s not forget Putin’s own attempts to blame NATO and the U.S. for this. According to repeated statements, he claims that NATO’s attempts to recruit Ukraine and other border states constitutes a justification for his invasion. This is something Putin has been fuming over for about twenty years now and its become increasingly laughable with every passing act of aggression he’s committed.
During the 1990s, many former SSRs requested admission to NATO (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and others) because the newly-independent governments wanted protection in the event of another Russian invasion. However, NATO chose to be careful about whom it let in out of a (admittedly, half-assed) promise not to bring NATO to Russia’s doorstep.
To their credit, NATO avoided arming any of the states that border Russia, which include only the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. None of these nations represent a threat to Russia because they are tiny states that sit on the Baltic Sea, a terrible place from which to launch an invasion. NATO also stalled repeatedly on welcoming Ukraine, Finland, or Sweden (which are much better places to invade from) out of fear that it would “provoke” Putin.
NATO has dragged its heels especially hard when it comes to Ukraine because they knew that Putin was concerned about losing this particular puppet state. Things did not improve since 2014, as Putin came to view Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” and the ouster of his puppet (Yanukovych) as a personal betrayal. Alas, this was the direct result of Putin’s policy of picking the leaders of border states and using his power to help them rig elections, purge opposition, and crush any pro-EU or pro-Western elements in these countries.
If anything, it’s Putin’s own paranoia regarding NATO and his desire to maintain his hold on satellite states that motivated his decisions to invade Chechnya, Georgia, and now Ukraine. They are also the reason he’s kept proxy-wars going in “frozen conflict” states throughout Eurasia. And it’s also the reason ISIS was able to thrive in Syria while pro-democratic forces were overrun. In summary, it is his paranoia and totalitarian ambitions that created the current crisis and is bringing NATO ever closer to his doorstep.
What’s more, any Russian claims that its the West that is peddling propaganda are laughably transparent. They are the ones spreading false narratives about their intentions and their progress. They are the ones trying to villify their victims and justify their unprovoked invasion and the mass murdering of civilians. And its because they know they are the ones with the stink of Nazi-esque aggression on them!
In fact, Putin’s rise to power mirrors that of Hitler, who also used a false flag operation (the burning of the Reichstag) to seize power and turn his country into a totalitarian state. Putin’s constant blaming of NATO is eerily reminiscent of Hitler blaming the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations for his crimes. Putin’s systematic invasions of Chechnya, Georgia, and Ukraine are virtually identical to Hitler’s annexations of Austria, the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. And the way Putin claims ethnic Russians are being “abused” by Ukraine as a justification for invading is identical to Hitler’s claims that ethnic Germans were being mistreated by Czechoslovakia and Poland.
For any thinking person, the situation and what is needed is clear. Putin is a totalitarian in the style of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, and Pol Pot. He came to power by murdering his own people, creating an atmosphere of fear and chaos that he then used that to justify ruling Russia with an iron fist. He has murdered or jailed countless dissidents, crushed all political opposition, has given total control of Russia’s wealth to his buddies, assumed control of all Russian media, and cowed his people through brainwashing and naked force.
He has created a cult of personality wherein he, and he alone, is fit to rule Russia and protect the Russian people against the West and the “threat” of independent governments on its border. His invasions also paint a clear pattern of him trying to restore the USSR and the “good old days” of Russian hegemony over its neighbors. Here too, his efforts mirror those of Stalin who wanted to resurrect the Russian Empire and Hitler’s drive to create “Greater Germania” (aka. the “Third Reich”).
The invasion of Ukraine is just the latest in a long line of aggressor moves made by a paranoid megalomaniac whose only concern is maintaining his grip on power. He must be beaten, removed from power, tried for crimes of war and crimes against humanity, and die in prison. Failing that, a forcible overthrow by his own generals and a bullet to the back of the head will suffice. Then again, it would be more appropriate if he were poisoned with polonium, an act of poetic justice that Putin couldn’t fail to appreciate!
There is no other scenario in which justice will be served for all of his victims — be they Ukrainian, Georgian, Chechen, Russian, or otherwise. A world without Putin will be a better world for all!