Whatever we want to say about Putin from this moment forward, let’s all agree to no longer use the word ‘shrewd’ to describe him. Because his invasion of Ukraine was anything but shrewd.
Putin, obviously bored from forced COVID confinement, decided for no logical reason anyone can discern that invading an independent nation would be the best cure for the doldrums.
He then thinks to use, as pretext, continuing skirmishes between Russian-backed ‘separatists’ and Ukrainian soldiers in two regions of Ukraine: Donetsk and Luhansk. He claims to the world that he’s only going to intervene in these two areas, and solely to protect Russian speakers.
The problem for Putin, though, is that the US and other NATO countries had already received intel that Putin was going to use a pretext to invade Ukraine. Not only did the countries receive this intel, they blasted the information out to the media. Doing so undercut any possibility of the kind of ‘false flag’ operation that Putin savors.
Donald Trump called Putin shrewd for using the pretext of protecting these two separatist regions, as a way to get an entry into Ukraine. Putin is not shrewd. In fact, in his actions against Ukraine more closely resemble something Trump would do, rather than a person who is ‘shrewd’.
Putin’s Non-Shrewd Behavior
Consider Putin’s recent actions. I’ll use the Al Jazeera timeline.
November, 2021: Putin dumps a mess of Russian soldiers and equipment on the border with Ukraine. This isn’t shrewd; this is obvious.
December 2021: Putin demands that the west and NATO basically crawl into a tiny, itty bitty hole and promise to never come out again. This isn’t shrewd: this is bellicose.
January 2021: Putin continues his demands, with, we can only assume, a threat of holding his breath until he turns blue tossed in. Not shrewd.
February 2022: Putin goes to Winter Olympics and promptly falls asleep. Not shrewd, tired.
Also February 2022: Russia claims troops are pulling back, but world is not fooled because they can see Russia’s big butt, hanging out from behind the bush.
February 21, 2022: ‘Putin recognizes two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, as independent entities and then orders Russian troops to “maintain peace” there.’
This is the action that inspired love and admiration from a disturbing number of Republican leaders, and multiple claims about how ‘shrewd’ Putin is.
February 24: Putin decides to toss aside any pretext and just full on invade Ukraine, including firing missiles at hospitals, apartment buildings, and then there’s the tank that decided to run over a car, just for grins and giggles.
Putin: Russia’s Trump
Putin has managed to make himself and Russia into a global pariah with his brutal and brutish behavior. Even his allies would prefer to stay quiet than verbally support him.
His bot factories are attempting to reframe what’s happening, but they’re overwhelmed by a images of a bully and a coward invading a much smaller independent country without any justification.
What the world sees is Ukrainian civilians and leaders, grabbing guns, promising to fight; Ukrainian people, huddled in subways, with their children, and their pets; Ukrainian civilians crying at having to leave their homes, or bloodied by Russian weapons. Ukraine has embodied every underdog character that has ever existed in fact or fiction.
Suddenly, blue and yellow are the new black.
Putin isn’t acting shrewd, he’s acting exactly like Trump would. He makes outrageous demands and then pretends umbrage when they aren’t met. He threatens both small and large countries, and hints at nuclear warfare. He lies continuously, hoping by the very repetition of the lie that they would somehow become perceived as the truth.
He’s even threatened Finland and Sweden, as if tossing more bad on his pile of bad will make it good.
In other words, Putin’s actions are quintessentially Trump. The only difference is that we were able to remove our Trump from power. We can only hope the Russian people can do the same to Putin, someday.
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