Vladimir Putin is a Terrible Dictator
This article is a rebuttal of my previous article. “The Russians Are Coming - Why Vladimir Putin is not the monster that the Western media make him out to be”
Vladimir Putin is cold and calculating. He is the strong man of Russia, Europe, and the World. He has unfortunately been the number one leader in the world for some time due to weak American, NATO and Western leadership. And Putin is not a good leader but a very bad one. He is a predator.
Everything Putin does is premeditated long in advance. From his invasion of Georgia in 2008 to his invasion of Crimea and East Ukraine in 2014, and his shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Democracy and Economic Freedom in Russia is an illusion. Everything is still controlled by the Russian Federation and its Oligarchs in some way or another and Putin is at the very top.
Russia is filled with a gray mass of people who on one hand are either desperately unhappy and want change or to get the heck out of there and on the other hand many who have been indoctrinated by State propaganda on an incredible scale and are towing the line.
There is not much difference today between the Soviet Union and the “modern” Russian Federation. They are two sides of the same coin. Putin even brought back the tune for the old USSR national anthem except with updated lyrics.
Russia today in 2017 is 33 years behind the rest of us and each year that gap widens by one year. Russia is a very nationalistic, protectionist, revisionist, paranoid and collectivist society with a lot of central planning, and it is an unhappy one where dreams are squashed by the state and people struggle to get by. Russia is an amazing country that has sadly been hijacked once more by a controlling paranoid leadership that has ambitions that are not peaceful and will not lead to prosperity.
When you use force that is not used in self-defence whether that is via legislation against a population or militarily you become the aggressor. When Russia annexed Crimea many of us in the West got confused believing that the people there are all Russians anyway, that Crimea used to be part of Russia, and they voted in a free and fair referendum to rejoin to Russian Federation, so what do we care? Those views are not entirely accurate or true. While it is true that a majority of people in Crimea are Russian speaking and also ethnically Russian that does not mean they are Russian Nationality wise or wish to be a part of the Russian Federation.
After speaking with real people from Crimea who live and work there and who are Russian speakers with Ukrainian nationality the impression I get is that they hate what has happened and preferred it when Crimea was part of Ukraine. They might have disliked the Ukrainian government and corruption in their country but they hate the Russian one even more. They believe that Russia is a very aggressive country and their lives have got worse since it annexed Crimea, so much so that many are now looking to leave. Crimea depends on Tourism but what Putin has done in illegally invading sovereign Ukrainian territory has been to make the whole Crimean peninsula have a similar status to that of Northern Cyprus which is extremely bad for the tourism industry on which it depends and means that they will now need to rely on tourist visits from Russia which is not such a great thing.
Quite often your character traits and mood will be passed down and influenced by those above you. Your parents. The manager of the company you work for. The leader of your country. If you have good parents, a good boss, a good Prime Minister, President, King or Queen then that isn't such a bad thing. Russia sadly does not have a good leader and that shows in the misery of the Russian people today.
I don't believe for a second that the referendum held in Crimea was free or fair, that the result was accurate. A sizeable portion of the voting age population also did not vote in it out of protest. This is beside the point though as the peninsula was invaded and annexed illegally by Putin and Russia. Who knows, if Russia had good leadership and were allowing more economic freedoms, free trade, and free movement then perhaps the people of Crimea would have voted in a free and fair referendum to rejoin Russia at some point but that would be a decision they would have had to take as part of Ukraine as Ukrainian nationals. What happened was the completely wrong way to go about something like that and that in itself is evidence that the result may not have gone Russia's way without force and coercion being used. Putin had long coveted Crimea and getting it back for Russia and he had no intention of pursuing the matter through diplomatic means as who the hell of a free choice and sound mind would want to join his new Russian Federation after only recently escaping the Soviet Union?
The situation is very much the same in Eastern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin sent in his brown shirts to cause trouble in East Ukrainian cities such as Donetsk, Luhansk and even Ukraine's second biggest city in the North East; Kharkiv. To get a brief idea of what Putin attempted in Kharkiv you just need to read the Wikipedia article about the city and the troubles it faced at the start of the conflict.
There is plenty of evidence in Eastern parts of Ukraine that a large percentage of the Russian speaking population in places like Kharkiv and elsewhere don't particularly like Russia or want to be part of Russia but are in fact proud Russian speaking Ukrainians. Many of Ukraine's brave troops fighting on the front lines of the conflict are also Russian speaking and fiercely defending Ukraine.
I have to say that the US and my country the UK are at great fault here as we made an agreement with Ukraine to protect their territorial integrity and borders when Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear deterrent as the World's third biggest nuclear power in 1995. The agreement involved the US, UK, Ukraine, and Russia but as usual, Russia never sticks to any of its agreements and broke it with the annexation of Crimea and invasion of East Ukraine.
In hindsight, it seems it was a dreadful mistake for Ukraine to have given up all of its nuclear deterrents. They have been unable to count on allies like the US and UK to support them and back them up when Russia inevitably breached their part of the agreement. Having a nuclear deterrent and strong armed forces of your own to defend your country is essential as you cannot always rely on others to do that for you. Is there anyone who believes that Putin and Russia would have done any of this if Ukraine had kept its nuclear deterrent?
The European Union were, of course, useless as usual when all this was going on and they were only concerned with keeping their gas and energy supplies from Russia secure so were unlikely to ever stick up for Ukraine a nation that seemingly was shifting its stance from one aligned more closely with Russia to one that wanted to join the EU.
As a Brexiteer and no fan of the EU, I don't personally understand why a country that suffered under Nazism then Communism would now want more of the same by joining the EU. Why not just choose to be independent and free? Nevertheless, that is something which is completely up to the people of Ukraine and only a decision they can make should they wish to.
The US and UK I feel have both badly let down our ally Ukraine at a time when they needed us most and have been facing a serious threat of Russian aggression and conflict against them. We did little to nothing to help them and we have a lot of making up to do thanks to the weak leadership of Barack Obama and before him George W Bush who was also caught off guard with the invasion of Georgia by Putin and Russia. The very least we can now do is to fully support Ukraine in any way we can through aid, economic investment and militarily and we should not loosen any sanctions against Russia. Bad behaviour should be punished not rewarded and Putin is very bad.
Russia and Putin seem to have so far been immune from any sanctions we have imposed and their country is doing reasonably well despite these extra difficulties. Sadly Putin will probably be in power until he dies or is overthrown. And in Russia being in power doesn't necessarily mean being the President as we have previously discovered. Quite often when one strong man goes another one who is even worse replaces them so even when Russia is finally rid of Putin the nightmare may continue. Until the next chapter in this saga, the West should be fully on the alert for Putin's next move and what territory he will try to grab next.
So far thanks to Vladimir Putin's warmongering and illegal invasion of Ukraine 10,225 people in total have been killed. 2,803 were civilians. 306 of those foreign civilians, 298 of which were on Malaysian Airline Flight MH17 shot down by Russian backed rebels. The conflict continues yet there is very little coverage in the press or on the news. 1.6 Million people have been displaced by the conflict with people that lived in separatist-controlled areas experiencing a complete absence of rule of law, reports of arbitrary detention, torture and incommunicado detention. Putin is not nice. He is a terrible dictator. Putin's Russia is not nice. It is 1984 in Russia.
The US and UK have badly let down and failed their ally Ukraine and now need to make amends and fully support and back them up in the ongoing conflict and hybrid war with Russia.