“Put” the world in your pocket

If there’s one lasting impression Vladimir Putin has on me, it’s his cold, expressionless stare at the cameras. It’s an icy, wintry look that betrays nothing.

With the exception of the interlude between 2008 and 2012 under Dmitry Medvedev, Putin is effectively the only leader Russia has had since Boris Yeltsin stepped down in 1999.

Russia had a presidential term limit of two consecutive four-year terms. But Putin coldly saw him again at six years old after having served for eight years in his first instance.

Moving the goal post, he traded with Medvedev from 2008 to 2012.

With cold precision, the pair somehow bumped the term limits to six and Putin came back to run for the new term limit which would have effectively ended in 2024. But he recently crafted a provision that allows him to be in office until 2036.

In 2020, he signed a bill that grants former Russian presidents and their family members lifetime immunity. To Putin, Yoweri Museveni, Paul Biya and lately, Alassane Ouatara can be proud to be imitated by one of the greatest nations in the world.

It is a tragedy that the world cannot meet Vladimir Putin with his characteristic cold gaze. The same cold stare he has cast through the barrel of a gun on neighboring Ukraine since he found a way to seize and annex the Crimean peninsula in March 2014 without any challenge .

Now, like an African village chief, he abducts a bride without question and with no intention of performing the rites of marriage. The combined forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States (US) can only muster a United Nations (UN) resolution to call on leader Putin to stand down. And the leader has only continued to escalate the aggression and the number of casualties and refugees will surely be the next major concern for UN relief agencies.

Remember the speed and alacrity with which the same power blocs opposed Saddam Hussein in “Operation Desert Storm” in August 1990. Even though Russia, Germany and France are opposed to maneuvers towards “Operation Desert Fox”, a second war in 2003, the United States and Great Britain went ahead to carry out an assault, overthrowing the Iraqi government and leaving a vacuum whose the country never recovered.

Now Putin is emboldened to stare coldly at the rest of the world behind nuclear warheads, daring anyone to sneeze and be damned. UN resolutions and condemnations are a waste of time, Putin has Ukraine and the rest of the world in his pocket until further notice.

With Russia there and the Allies running out of will, North Korea’s ‘Rocket Man’, who has proven himself a very good student of international absenteeism, is likely to take a sideways glance. like South Korea, licking your lips and jotting down strategies in your notebook.

It should matter to historians that North Korea voted against the UN resolution condemning Putin. China abstained. Xi Jinping silently engages in his own wrongdoing and bullying. And it’s in his enlightened interest to mind his own business.

Poor Ukrainian! He will have to take the blows of a big bully surrounded by friendly bullies who lack the balls to stand up to this relentless aggressor. As unconscionable as it sounds, however, perhaps this restraint could be the only thing standing between the world and another global catastrophe.

This unnecessary war has upset the fortunes of many African and other nationals living in Ukraine. For many years, Nigerian students have found a hub for medical studies in Ukraine. Many of those who studied and returned go on to successful careers in the private and public health sectors.

Nigeria is said to have the highest student population in Ukraine next to India.

And the reasons are obvious. Tuition fees for international students are reasonably affordable. Ukraine is one of the most profitable educational destinations in Europe, and Nigerian students need not worry about endless classes punctuated by strikes from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

It is a combination of all these positive elements that our country must learn from in order to keep ours within its borders. University students are currently at home following another strike by their professors. As I write, their counterparts who were counting on their luck in Eastern Europe will soon join them as refugees fleeing an unnecessary war. No thanks to the cold Putin.

The question again: who can stop Putin? So far, no one. In other words, say no to Jupiter. The irrational and devious Donald Trump may have been a factor, but he is effectively off the stage.

The world has changed. This is no longer a situation where the allies storm Germany from the west and Russia storms from the east to invade Berlin. So Putin knows he has everyone by the balls and might as well decide to squeeze.

Between 1939 and 1945, there were no Israel, India, Pakistan, China and North Korea with nuclear arsenals. But there were inspirational leaders and philosopher kings like Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Charles de Gaulle, and many others who fought the war kinetically against Germany and diplomatically among themselves.

Hitler, the highly inspiring German chancellor whose territorial and racist ambitions started it all, entered the history books as persona non grata, a murderous villain who threw the world into confusion. But even after exterminating six million Jews in gas chambers through mass murder, Hitler’s eyes (in the photos) aren’t as cold as Putin’s.

If, as assumed, Putin’s ambition is to restore Russia, as a former Soviet empire, to its superpower status, then the question in our minds should be: after Ukraine, who/where next ? It also means that Eastern Europe is in for a night of horrors, as Alexander the Great has set out to conquer. And damn it, he’s got a weapons cache to drive him – and others with a similar weapons cache, fear mutually assured destruction.

Does the worldwide notoriety and ignominy with which the Führer is regarded mean anything to the Russians and their president? But who listens to whom? Obviously, just as the Germans had to listen and follow Hitler – whether they like it or not, the Russians have to put up with Putin no matter what.

Perhaps history is about to repeat itself.

Ogar sent this piece from Utako District, Abuja

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