Putin can’t hold world to ransom

Russian President Vladimir Putin

By Tendai Ruben Mbofana
THE first thing that came to mind immediately after waking up this morning was Vlad the Impaler.

I did not understand why I realised the unmistaken striking similarities between the name Vlad, and that of the Russian President Vladimir Putin — whom, just before retiring to bed, I had been shocked to learn had instructed his country to be on high nuclear alert.

I found myself saying: “This Putin guy has clearly become unhinged, and has decided to place the entire world under hostage, as he threatens us all with nuclear annihilation, if his conditions are not met”.

I have always been a very open-minded person in how I perceive issues, understanding the greater context of Putin’s apprehension at continued Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) eastward expansion, despite a vow not to do so, supposedly made after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Soviet Union some 30 years ago.

I honestly made an effort to empathise with the Russian leadership over how it felt when an avowed enemy, Nato, kept creeping closer to their borders  as former Warsaw Pact member countries (Soviet satellite States) joined the military alliance, with Ukraine (which shares a 2 000 kilometre-border) having made such overtures.

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1960 easily came to mind, the US was angered over the deployment of Soviet medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles in fellow Communist Cuba, a mere 165km away, in retaliation for its own stationing of nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey — leading to a tense environment that threatened a possible war, or even nuclear holocaust.

The US never made the catastrophic decision to invade Cuba (although, it “quarantined” the island by a naval blockade), nor did the Soviets attack — but,  the issue was resolved after intense talks between John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev — leading to Soviet missiles being moved out of Cuba and US nuclear missiles out of Italy and Turkey.

Putin has proved not to be like Khrushchev (who exhibited commendable and highly impressive diplomatic skills).

He has arrogantly decided that the easiest way to deal with his Nato expansionist fears was by invading a neighbouring sovereign and independent nation (wantonly violating its territorial integrity, brutally destroying its infrastructure and people), as well as holding the whole world to ransom through raising of Russian’s nuclear alert levels.

Let us never be fooled — should nuclear weapons be deployed, Ukraine will not be the only country affected, but the entirety of the globe, including, those blindly supporting Putin.

Surely, what manner of a human being is prepared to murder innocent civilians, in order to make a point — no matter how justified the action may be?

Which is why the name Vlad the Impaler came to mind as I woke up this morning.

This was not simply on account of the glaring likeness of the names Vlad and Vladimir — but, the much deeper wickedness exhibited by the two.

Vlad Tepes (Vlad III) was the real life dracula — since he was also known as Vlad Dracula (meaning “Son of the Dragon”), whose cruelty inspired later fairy tales — who was three-times Voivode of Wallachia, in Romania, between 1448 and his death in 1476/77.

His kingdom had been surrounded by his enemies —the Hungarians, Ottomans, his younger brother, and Wallachian nobility — leading him to employ extremely vile measures to instil fear in those who opposed him, such as impaling his enemies on stakes to their gruesome deaths, resulting in over 80 000 people facing such cruel end.

He would display the bodies of his victims, impaled on tall stakes, around his castle — which could be easily seen from kilometres away.

Vlad the Russian is not only already unleashing on Ukraine, but also threatening the rest of the globe.

This should never be allowed to continue — and, the international community should have spoken with one voice against this madness and evil, at the UN General Assembly meeting yesterday.

The world has to reject Russia’s intimidatory tactics by showing that we are not afraid of those who want to use savagery and destruction as negotiation chips.

We have already witnessed the devastating effects of such brazen thuggery — through US-Nato invasion of countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

We need to send an unambiguous message to Putin that, in today’s world, negotiations are the language of normal Homo Sapiens — and not ruthless aggression.

It does not matter whether the issues between Nato and Russia have been ongoing for years — confrontation has never resolved any problems.

Besides the endless wars the world has witnessed over the course of history, what have they truly achieved — except needless death of countless innocent civilians?

The days of Vlad the Impaler are long gone — and should be confined to Count Dracula and vampire fairy tales and movies.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator