By Matein Khalid
Recurrent lesson in Russian history is that the top guy in the Kremlin is toast if he loses a war or a high stakes geopolitical gamble. In 1962, Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban missile crisis gamble against JFK backfired and he was booted out from the Politburo by his fellow oligarchs two years later. Tsar Nicholas’s armies were gutted by the Germans at the battle of Tannenberg in 1915 and his generals forced him to abdicate the imperial crown in February 1917.
Putin’s unprovoked blitzkrieg in Ukraine has triggered a devastating backlash from the West and he has now endangered his own powerbase among the siloviki/oligarchs whose support was the catalyst for his meteoric rise. His latest nuclear blackmail is an act of desperation that will unite both the West and Russian elite against his regime and his fall from power is now inevitable. Even ethnic Russians in Ukraine have fought back against the invaders and anti-war protests have flared up across Russia as the coffins of dead soldiers are flown home.
Putin has fallen into a classic autocrat’s trap. He is unhinged from reality and isolated in his own paranoia. Even though, as Dr. Kissinger observed, the paranoids also have real enemies. Russia will pay a terrible price for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as it is blackballed from the global financial system, its sovereign assets are frozen and forced to confront a rearmed Germany, the Kremlin’s geopolitical bogeyman since August 1914.
Putin is old enough to remember Brezhnev’s invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, which condemned the USSR to a generation of economic stagnation and ultimately total defeat in the Cold War in 1991. Like Saddam in August 1990 and Gaddafi in 2011, Putin may find out that autocrats who drink their own Kool-Aid and miscalculate the balance of power invariably end up in the garbage dump of history. Even Germany will now supply anti-tank missiles and stingers to the Ukranians and a popular insurrection could provoke a revolt among Russian conscripts who were told that they were going on a training mission.
China’s abstention at the UN means that Russia is now a true global pariah state, even though Putin can console himself that he has a new buddy in Pakistani PM Imran Khan, who showed up in Moscow the day Putin’s troops attacked Ukraine and said “it was an exciting time”.
The video Putin humiliating his own national security advisors before the world reminded me of Caligula and the ancient Roman Senators, who ultimately had the last laugh on the power crazed, murderous Imperator. It is never wise for a Russian Tsar or a Roman Caesar to humiliate his own palace guard.
The war has now hit the Russian people too. There is a depositor run on Russian banks, the Moscow financial market have been hit by neutron bomb. The London/Riviera mansions, super yachts and Swiss bank accounts of hundreds of Russian oligarchs will be seized.
The Kremlin media’s Goebbelsian lies have been exposed before their own people, who have joined the world in protesting this act of cynical aggression against a sovereign UN member state. Sweden and Finland will now join NATO and Poland/the Baltics will become even more passionately devoted to Uncle Sugar’s and the EU’s security umbrella.
While I know that some people who follow me are cheerleaders of Putin, just as they were cheerleaders of the Taliban last August, surely, they realize that Putin has gravely endangered the Russian economy and the Russian state with his latest geopolitical adventure.
Sophocles was so right. After hubris, there is only nemesis. (IPA Service)