As Russia’s Vladimir Putin continues his cat-and-mouse-and-ready-to-pounce tactics with Ukraine and, by extension, the NATO alliance, he looks very much alone at the far end of a long conference table where he now chooses to perch himself, whether dialoguing with European leaders or his own ministers.
And perhaps he now understands, as his own foreign minister Sergei Lavrov begs for more time to negotiate with the West, how very isolated he has become and, more important, how a bloody invasion of Ukraine would quite likely seal his own death warrant.
Because invading Ukraine is a gamble that Mr. Putin, like Hitler before him, would ultimately lose, ending — happily, for the world—in his own demise. (His ploy for disenfranchising NATO has already backfired. Instead of achieving the result he desired, it effectively reinvigorated the alliance’s resolve to stand in unity.)
And when putrid Putin is gone, no one will weep.
Not his ex-wife (who he used to beat) nor his daughters, who know better than anyone what a tyrant he is. And certainly not the Russian people, who have been financially and emotionally raped by Mr. Putin and the mafia he brought with him to Moscow from St. Petersburg just over 22 years ago.
Think “The Wizard of Oz” near the end when the Wicked Witch of the West melts after Dorothy douses her with a bucket of water after the witch sets the Scarecrow afire — and the witch’s henchmen, far from being angry, chant, “Hail to Dorothy! The wicked witch is dead!”
The witch’s disappearance had set them free.
Russian men and women in the street regard neighboring Ukrainians as their brothers and sisters. In their hearts, they share so similar a culture and soul that armed confrontation would feel to the people of this region like a civil war — except that Ukraine for the past 30 years has not been part of a dysfunctional “union” that, before then, constrained their policies from Moscow. Nor do Ukrainians desire to be dominated by a ruthless dictator from Mother Russia.
In their sovereign country, Ukrainians have delighted in their own territorial integrity and national identity. And the average Russian in the street has no problem co-existing with a free and independent Ukraine.
Russians will, however, have a major bone to pick with the imperialistic Mr. Putin when their children and grandchildren begin arriving home in body bags, by the droves
And for what? they will ask. So that Mr. Putin — who seems to suffer from an insecurity complex — can put on yet another show of macho, like the time he pulled off his shirt and pretended, for photographers, to be Tarzan?
As for the oligarchs — they love their lives! Enslaving Ukraine and the Ukrainians will do nothing to improve their existence.
On the contrary, it will vastly complicate where they go and what they do. These are the greedy pigs who own townhouses on Belgrave Square in London and sprawling English estates and costume themselves like country squires in their quest to become more British than the Brits. They send their kids to expensive U.K. schools and vacation in pricey villas along the French Riviera near their super-yachts. In short, they enjoy a) their money and b) their freedom to travel (and in general).
But if Mr. Putin invades Ukraine, these oligarchs will watch in horror as their money and flexibility for travel begins to disappear. Their glamorous, extravagant lifestyles in London, Paris, Nice, St. Tropez, Rome, New York, etc. will end. The fruits they have so enjoyed for well over two decades will no longer be so easily picked and consumed.
They will no longer be welcome in Britain; not welcome anywhere in the West. And many will likely watch aghast as their grand properties are frozen or confiscated along with their bank accounts and other valuable assets as their dirty deals are finally investigated and exposed, leaving them open to prosecution and forfeiture of property. (In a just world, this would have happened long ago.)
They will lose the material things they love so much all because of putrid Putin’s personality.
Both the average downtrodden Russian and the pampered oligarch already know that this invasion of Ukraine is purely about Mr. Putin and his own selfish agenda and prejudices (in addition to centering global attention upon himself). And it is they who will join forces to put an end to this tyrant once the full magnitude of what he has subjected them to overrides the propaganda poppycock the Kremlin has put out for domestic consumption.
From an idealistic standpoint, Mr. Putin has forever wanted to re-establish the old Soviet Union — from the time he was a lowly KGB officer posted in Dresden, then part of East Germany (definitely, in that posting, not part of the KGB’s A-Team — more likely, the D-Team) and found himself frantically burning documents in the Russian consulate as his beloved Iron Curtain was raised and the despicable wall he so adored deconstructed while Soviet-style communism collapsed around him.
From a personal standpoint, Mr. Putin wants to survive and preserve the vast personal fortune he has squirreled away for himself, from high-end wristwatches to villas and chateaus all over Europe to the super yacht he just moved from Germany to Kaliningrad to the palaces he built for himself around Russia to huge bank balances in ciphered accounts throughout the world’s offshore tax havens.
One thing we all learned post World War II is that we — the Allied countries — should have taken out Hitler early on — and saved the world from his horrors.
Truth be known, NATO’s leaders and joint intelligence services should have long ago designed a plan to douse this bully with a bucket of water and melt him into the ground.
Instead, innocent people (civilians, women, children) would die in an invasion (50,000 has been estimated). The horror of war would destroy so very many lives — and the world would (for only a short period of time, one hopes) continue to endure an evil despot who, unfortunately, is cleverer than Joe Biden, Britain’s Boris Johnson and France’s Emmanuel Macron all rolled together.
RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE FILES
Add this to the equation: Russian intelligence services are among the best in the world. You can be certain they know everything there is to know — and there’s a lot to know — about President Biden’s shady deals with certain Ukrainians to enrich his family, along with Biden family secret deals with China, again, to feather his own family nest, thus far protected from widespread exposure by a liberal mainstream media (because they could not see past their Trump Derangement Syndrome) and a highly politicized Department of Justice.
It is possible Mr. Putin will use this leverage if/when his invasion begins to backfire, when the Russian working man and Russian oligarch turn on their leader — as they will — and Kremlin leadership implodes. It will be most interesting to see how President Biden and his son Hunter, as midterm elections approach, try to squeak out of all the evidence that has mounted up against them — both at home and in the files of foreign intelligence services.
And it could be that Mr. Putin’s hoped-for exile (if push comes to shove) in Monte Carlo, with his dimwitted comrade Prince Albert, may now be in doubt as he would likely be hunted as a war criminal. And that’s only IF the oligarchs and average Russians don’t get him first. (Think Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi and Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu).
The Investigator wrote in these pages on Oct. 11, 2008: “By early 2005, Western intelligence services knew that Vladimir Putin was scheming to remain in absolute control of Russia beyond his second four-year term as president. And thus, the New Russia has a New Stalin: a megalomaniac autocrat determined to hold onto power at any cost, to include the beating and shooting to death of journalists who dare criticize his dictatorial rule.” Intelligence analysts told The Investigator: “Mr. Putin possesses a bullying nature. He has few friends and trusts no one; he respects only those who stand up to him.’”
Here is our point: The Western intelligence services — especially the CIA and the (UK) MI6 — knew this about Mr. Putin 17 years ago!
And no one dared stand up to him!
Our column back then continued: “Mr. Putin strives to have something on everyone — and has directed his intelligence services to perform accordingly.”
Which perhaps may explain, at least in part, why he gets away with outrageously aggressive behavior.
And it is because our leaders possessed this intelligence so long ago that they are culpable for allowing Mr. Putin’s power to perpetuate — for not putting him in his place for murdering journalists, defectors, opponents, invading Georgia in 2008 and invading Crimea in 2014.
All they ever did was impose limited economic sanctions, about which, “Putin doesn’t give a s—” (according to Viktor Tatarintsev, his ambassador to Sweden).
Instead, our leaders permitted those buddies of his who have raped the energy and fertilizer industries of their own country (to the detriment of the average Russian) to prosper and make the West their playground.
They knew. Yet they continued to demonstrate weakness and appease Mr. Putin, just as British Prime MInister Neville Chamberlain before them appeased and emboldened Adolph Hitler’s expansionist misadventures by foolishly declaring “Peace in our time.”
PUTIN THE PSYCHOPATH
Here is the biggest problem of all if Mr. Putin brings war upon Ukraine and innocent men, women and children are slaughtered.
He ENJOYS this.
George W. Bush as U.S, president looked into Mr. Putin’s eyes and later famously declared, “He has no soul.”
But it’s worse than that.
As we also wrote in 2008: “Mr. Putin’s most revealing characteristic is how he spends his time: watching military reprisals against Chechen nationalists. The more barbaric the imagery played out on his TV screen, including Chechen teenage boys being shot in the head, the greater is said to be Mr. Putin’s enjoyment.”
Our intelligence services knew this about him.
And our leaders knew this because they were briefed by our intelligence services.
How did I know this? As director of the Monaco Intelligence Service, I was also briefed (along with Prince Albert) on Mr. Putin’s personality by Russia experts from both the CIA and MI6.
Our intelligence services and leaders also knew, over 20 years ago, about Mr. Putin’s strong desire to reform the Soviet Union. This was partly why the (corrupt) deputy mayor of St. Petersburg was chosen by remnants of the KGB to replace Boris Yeltsin as president at the end of 1999.
This was known.
And our leaders did nothing.
How do I know this?
I was there, in Moscow, operating undercover for FBI counterintelligence in January 1997.
I was at an intimate dinner hosted for me and CIA defector Edward Lee Howard by former KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov at a restaurant called Fairy Tale.
Mr. Kryuchkov’s right-hand man, Igor Prelin, set his hand on my wrist and asked, “What will Washington think when the Soviet Union re-emerges?”
It was a chilling moment.
If Putin the Terrible takes Ukraine, the Soviet Union will have re-emerged — and its evil axis with China will prove the gravest threat our country has ever seen.
And it is our so-called “leaders” who are to blame for never having anything more than a reactive stance to world events. Just as they were to blame for appeasing Hitler, the debacle that was the Vietnam War and invading Iraq over so-called “weapons of mass destruction.”
CIA Deputy Director of Operations Clair George told me, after I’d arrived in Washington, D.C., to work with him: “I’d take you downtown to a Starbucks and point the folks who really run things, but it’ll only scare the bejesus out of you.”
Lest anyone have any doubt, this is what the legendary spymaster meant: Small minds.
Minds that are easily led astray by lobbyists and special interests and the military-industrial complex.
Minds that allow history to repeat itself.
Robert Eringer is a longtime Montecito author with vast experience in investigative journalism. He welcomes questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.