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Missiles crash into concrete surfaces. Buildings collapse, parents cry, children die, the world suffers, and Putin in his ravings orders more killing. Nothing can prevent bloodshed. What does NATO need to understand that war has already come? There is no way to avoid it: when one single man is convinced that he has some kind of divine mission, he could destroy the whole of humanity in order to fulfill his purposes. If Putin was not hurt by the deaths and savagery in the war against the Chechens; if the images of children fleeing across the Ukrainian borders don’t turn his stomach; if he does not mind sending his own people to immolate themselves for his pretensions of grandeur, what makes the West think that there is still time to negotiate?
Diplomacy is extinct, the faster we assume this, the faster we will be on our way to ending this war. Evidently, there is not a single person in the world outside Russian borders eager to start a new world war, but the head of the Kremlin cannot be changed. Putin will only give up his pretensions to dominate Ukraine and expand Russian territory by force, the reason being that this goes beyond a mere ideological, political or commercial struggle. This is for the Petersburg butcher a kind of crusade for world supremacy which he, and a large part of Russians, consider an elementary character.
Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian Nobel Prize winner for Literature, explained it very well: “I think Putin reflects the opinion of the average Russians who live in the suburbs, those Russians who don’t tolerate humiliation.” Alexievich alleges that in order to write her books, she traveled a lot in Russia and that many of its citizens constantly spoke of this feeling of having been ostracized from the world, of having ceased to be a great power. “They spoke of humiliation more than anything else: nobody is afraid of us, they said. And how they rejoiced when they could say that Putin made them rise up from kneeling before the world! I am afraid that this feeling of imperialism is very deep-rooted,” Alexievich assured.
Putin was never interested in the Ukrainian border areas, it was always clear to him that the ideal would be to go for the whole country, to recover what he considers part of Great Russia. That is why it is foolish to think that if he succeeds, he will stop in Kyiv. If Putin gets it his way, he will soon take giant steps to claim other territories currently in dispute. He will use the pro-Russian forces established in Moldova and Georgia to expand his territory, and he could start a great rebellion against the established international order.
The head of the Kremlin is anything but a fool, a brilliant mind for procuring evil, an individual with spy training to calculate with minute precision every military and political step. 2022 was Putin’s perfect opportunity to try to re-forge Greater Russia. There’s an impotent president in the White House, a world in chaos, numbed by the latest pandemic, and the European economies more dependent than ever on his energy. It was surely the time to strike the blow to regain that misplaced greatness of the Soviet Union.
Ukrainians know perfectly well what they are facing. In their memories is latent the Holodomor to which they were subjected by Stalin’s regime, the one that took the lives of some 10 million Ukrainians who were tortured and starved by political decisions.
Zelensky fights not only for his territory and his people: he fights for history, for the collective memory of all Ukrainians who have suffered in the last century the abuses that the Russians have provoked in their country. In this epic of David against Goliath, he will be able to resist for as long as his body and army can, but without the help of the West, he will most likely end up with his country reduced to ashes, and Putin using it as a runway to conquer new skies.
NATO is making a serious mistake trying to postpone this conflict. Putin is already committed: he knows there is no turning back. He is sanctioned by the world, companies have fled his country, the diplomatic world has turned its back on him, and in his crusade, he has also bankrupted the Russian economy.
The Russians will never forgive Putin that all these sacrifices will be in vain. For him, this is more than a territorial war: it is already a matter of life and death, either he succeeds, or most probably his head will end up rolling in some public square in Moscow.
Whether the West likes it or not, it is already immersed in the war. It was not its decision, but it’s here. Putin can’t back down and neither should NATO: it is time to confront evil. It is either that, or continue to humiliate itself until Ukraine is vanished, and the guns are pointed directly at new territories.
Emmanuel Rincón is a lawyer, writer, novelist and essayist. He has won several international literary awards. He is Editor-at-large at El American // Emmanuel Rincón es abogado, escritor, novelista y ensayista. Ganador de diversos premios literarios internacionales. Es editor-at-large en El American