Did you think he was bluffing?

Vladamir Putin (Getty Images)

Who among us really believed that Putin putting the bulk of his military on the Ukrainian border was a bluff? Did anyone really think he just wanted to wrest some concessions from NATO and the US? Sure, we heard the theories that all that massed armament was just so Putin could brag to his people that he’d made the US blink. And that after that public relations victory, he’d withdraw all those tanks and soldiers and guns.

Well, we blinked. And blinked. And blinked again. We threatened all kinds of economic sanctions that would hurt the Russian people — as if Putin cared about them — and Russian oligarchs — as if Putin cared. He’s a ruthless military man, former Soviet KGB. He speaks guns and tanks, bullets and rockets. He doesn’t speak economics or sanctions or public relations. Subtle he has never been.

Everything Biden is implementing now should have been implemented weeks ago. Putin should have been made to feel the pain when he first started positioning troops on Ukraine’s border. Now we’re just trying to lock the barn door after the horse is out. Too little, too late.

One can’t help wondering: Will Ukraine be enough? Or does Putin dream of more? Does he hope to rebuild the old Soviet empire? And should we just ignore his passing reference to having nukes?

Nor should our concern be limited to far-off Eastern Europe. You can’t have missed the response of our twice-impeached ex-president when Putin declared Ukraine’s separatist regions Donetsk and Luhansk to be independent and then immediately invaded them:

This is genius. Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. So Putin is now saying it’s independent, a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper.”

And late today, this heartbreaking personal note: My son recently ordered a new phone case from a man in Ukraine who hand crafts them. Today he got the following note from that man:

“Hello guys,

I’m sorry to say that, by my day, 02/24 started from the bombs that Russia started dropping on my city, Kharkov at 4:30 a.m.
Their tanks are getting pretty close, I don’t know when I can answer you or if I ever will.
If I don’t get in touch, you can get your money by writing to the email address your payment was sent to.

My birthday is on 02/26 so I wish only to be alive. Stay safe.” 

Banner image: Gallery News/Al Jazeera

4 thoughts on “Did you think he was bluffing?

  1. Our intelligence community seems to have at least partially redeemed itself after the fiasco of the Iran War in getting this one right. It is notable that president Biden revealed the intel publicly, well in advance of the reality, something seldom done for fear of exposing sources. What is happening reveals the value of NATO, something our last president scorned. The question now is whether the body politic is wise enough to understand the meaning of what’s happening, or simply gripe about gas prices.

    1. Yes, I thought it smart to let Putin (and the world) know that we knew his every move, that he wasn’t operating in secret or fooling anyone. That, of course, did not deter him. My fear now is that all the sanctions being levied against him won’t kick in fast enough to stop his moving on, if that is his intent.

  2. I’ve read this several times. I keep thinking about the craftsman with whom your son is doing business. What an honorable man! He’s literally running for his life and still feels compelled by his obligation to his clients. What a small man Putin is.

    1. I’d not really thought about what an honorable man he obviously is. I’ve been so distressed knowing his hometown is one of the easternmost in Ukraine, right by the border.

... and that's my two cents