VLADIMIR Putin has proven to be what the British public apparently knows better than many of its politicians and diplomats.
The Russian president is a sociopathic ultranationalist who does not care about the value of human life.
Just ask the people of Salisbury, for example, if they thought it was a good idea to welcome Putin’s mega-rich cronies to the UK.
Or to undertake trade missions to Moscow as recently as last year.
Or Alex Salmond hosting a regular show on the Russian propaganda news channel RT last week.
The people of Salisbury, having lived through a fatal, near-catastrophic chemical weapons attack four years ago ordered by Putin, would have known that appealing to the better nature of the Russian president would not work.
He does not have.
Jeremy Corbyn has suggested that Russia should be part of this Salisbury-Novichok investigation.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace nearly gutted it in the House of Commons last week.
It is not just the politicians of yesterday who were blind, deaf and dumb.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks highly of Russia, and he has done somewhat well in recent weeks with the UK’s military and rhetorical support for Ukraine.
But the Conservative Party has not been able to disassociate itself from funding the shady Russians. Lord Lebedev, the son of a KGB agent and owner of the London Evening Standard and the Independent, was knighted by Johnson in 2020.
Putting aside past mistakes and political blindness, or incompetence, this is where we are.
Ukraine is violated.
Leaving aside the extreme left and the extreme right, most people understand that the fault lies with the Kremlin and its puppeteer.
More than that, they instinctively understand that this time, unlike so many times before, Putin needs to be tackled and hit.
Not just ignored.
Russia has rarely suffered defeat during Putin’s 22 years as president.
He won in Chechnya in 2000, thanks to horrific massacres, then again in Georgia in 2008, then again in Ukraine in 2014 with even more massacres, and this time with a slap on the wrist, then in Syria, where there was mass murder but no censorship .
Putin is a player. Winning players roll the dice again. Players who lose, give up, go bankrupt or are destroyed.
Thanks to all this, we allow Russia to host the Olympic Games, World Cups, Grand Prix and much more.
Russia should not have the privilege and prestige of hosting international sports tournaments.
So far, he has only been kicked out of the Eurovision Song Contest.
The right decision, of course, but hardly one that will put Putin back in his hole.
And the British public can help by putting pressure on their elected representatives to get together and do something about it.
Failure to beat Putin at his own imperial game will mean more massacres, a redrawing of the map of Europe, almost certainly more assassinations in the future, and basically “no more Putin.”
But I can assure you that there is “another Russia”.
One who does not deserve to be ruled by a dictator with an inferiority complex.
The citizens of this Russia, with a little encouragement and help, may one day join the European family of peaceful and democratic nations.
We are far from that right now.
But that other Russia is out there somewhere, and we can all help by defeating their leader this time.
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