By Michael Hammerschlag
(@ 5:37 min, also see 9:10 )
Putin gave a weird performance Aug 27 at a Minsk press conference (also see 9:10 sec). Putin rocks back and forth the whole time, looks really stressed, extremely sad, almost about to cry, looks down and takes huge breaths to steady himself 3 or 4 times, shudders 2-3 times. Is the Little Big Man losing it?
In the video of his Minsk speech to the leaders (about trade loses Russia would suffer, nothing on the WAR), every leader was glaring at him in icy hateful disbelief, Poroshenko with looks that could kill- Putin looked nervous and ill at ease. He is under enormous pressure now from all sides, having awakened the dragon of Russian nationalism + extremism, which he carefully suppressed for 14 years in the Nat. Bolsheviks, being hectored by every foreign leader, oligarchs grumbling about destruction of their fortunes + economy, world closing to Russians, losing Ukraine forever, ensuring his overthrow in 4-5 years (see IMPERIAL STRETCH). In one scenario of my article I had Putin starts a nuclear war as option 3b, almost as a joke, but have raised the probability after seeing this video.
Another serious danger is Ukraine openly aspiring to be NATO- first if the wimps in the West aren’t forking over every weapons system in the warehouse now, don’t expect them to let Ukraine in in the middle of a war! NATO is a deterrent organization- it’s supposed to prevent an invasion, not stop an ongoing one- that takes 1-2 years of equipment upgrades, training and exercises. The danger is that I’ve long thought joining NATO is Putin’s Red Line- that he would fully occupy Ukraine rather than allow NATO to subsume his “little (abused) brother” and actually share a long border with Russia. America would react the same way if Canada had suddenly decided to join the Warsaw Pact. It’s simply too late now.
If Putin is really unstable, public screaming about NATO is just what the doctor said “Don’t Do!” Get military hardware, equipment, training, Yes sure, from anywhere, from anyone. But right now, in the middle of a war, don’t agitate for joining NATO, something they NEVER will do, but it will fuel every paranoid Putin fantasy about longterm Western game plans and conspiracies in his KGB-corroded head. If Russians are really threatening Kyiv with nukes (which I don’t believe, and reckless of the Defense Ministry to claim if untrue), that shows how out of control they are. And how dangerous the situation.
In a few brief days, Putin’s relentless escalation and his questionable mental state have amplified Ukraine’s tortured trials into a first class Cold War superpower emergency- the great danger is that without even realizing that we are here, we could stumble into the nuclear apocalypse that has been so patiently waiting for mankind since 1945.