Has Putin Lost His Mind By Attacking Ukraine?

Photograph of Vladimir Putin wearing a black suit jacket, a white shirt, and a red tie with tiny white dots.
By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, Link accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

This has gone beyond being a grand pissing match between world powers.

Putin’s Big Dick

Putin’s aggression toward Ukraine is either a big dick move or the action of a man who can no  longer get it up. Is the takeover of a sovereign nation the Russian-dictator-version of buying a new sports car or a mega-truck when your penis no longer works? Hard to say. However, Putin’s grand show of force exceeds Kim Jong-un shooting off his missiles, and his recent verbal and written declarations are reminiscent of Fidel Castro at his prime when his hours-long speeches kept the Cuban people and members of the U.N. held hostage. Putin’s latest rants seem manic: calling the Ukrainian government Nazis, accusing the Ukrainians of genocide, and threatening “consequences as you have never experienced in your history” to any nation that tries to interfere in his invasion of Ukraine (CNN). This is crazy talk!

A Big Win or a Fatal Loss

Most Russian citizens are loving this show of force. Having only known autocratic rule between the czars and the Soviets, Russians respect strong leaders – that is until their sons come home in body bags the way they did during the Soviet-Afghanistan War (1979-1989), which was a contributing factor to the fall of the Soviet Union. While he may be the richest man in the world, there are plenty of other filthy-rich Russian oligarchs who may not agree with Putin’s heavy-handed actions. If they sense a deterioration in Putin’s mental state or if the Ukrainian invasion goes awry will they intervene by staging a palace coup?

Putin: The Master Planner Determined to Secure His Borders

Putin used existing rebel movements in Georgia as an opportunity to gain influence and create a buffer zone in a strategically important neighboring state. In Crimea, Putin just rushed in unannounced and uninvited, and immediately after, he sent his “little green men” into the Donbas region of Ukraine to gain a foothold and further disrupt the status quo. In both cases, Putin used the distraction of the Olympic Games to make his move: 2008 Olympics for the Georgia invasion and 2014 Olympics (in Sochi, Russia, no less) for the Crimean invasion. While the incursion into Georgia seemed like an opportunistic action at the onset, in retrospect, Putin was clearly working with the rebels to orchestrate the Olympic-timing of the invasion. Whereas, the attacks on Ukraine seem well-planned and deliberate from the onset. What at first glance seemed like Putin was working under the cover of the Olympics, now seems like he chose the timing of the Olympics in order to gain even more notoriety for the audacity of his actions.

Why Ukraine and Why Now?

Putin’s determination to secure Georgia and Ukraine can be traced back to the 2008 Bucharest Summit when NATO declared that eventually Georgia and Ukraine would be considered for NATO membership. Having their nemesis directly on their border scared the hell out of the Russians, as it should. Hence, Russia helped Abkhazia and South Ossetia separate from Georgia, creating a buffer zone on that strategic southern border. Over the past two decades, Ukraine has vacillated between Russian-friendly and Russia-wary presidents. Being over it, Russia finally made the big move of taking back Crimea – a gift to Ukraine in 1954 by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev; it was a year after the death of Josef Stalin – the man responsible for the Holodomor aka the Terror Famine in the winter of 1932-33 wherein almost 4 million Ukrainians starved to death. To the Russians, the seizure of Crimea was a matter of taking back what had originally been theirs. The support for the separatists in Donbas appears to be a longer-term strategy. The final impetus for securing Ukraine was likely the 2021 NATO Brussels Summit wherein NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine via Membership Action Plans (MAP) would be in the future of the two former Soviet Republics (NATO). Putin bided his time until the 2022 Olympics ended on February 4, and in the mean time he secured the cooperation of President Lukashenko in Belarus and made an alliance with President Xi Jinping of China.

The Cold War Just Got Hot

The February 24, 2022, bombing and invasion of Ukraine is the biggest event since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It is scary shit when a nuclear power starts bombing their neighbor. What the hell is Putin thinking? What is his end game? Has Putin lost his mind? Born in 1952, Vladimir Putin is 69. Hence, this is not a mid-life crisis. It appears to be more of a legacy issue. Putin wants to be remembered for getting the band back together by reclaiming the most significant former Soviet republics through any means possible. 

Is Putin Having a Health Crisis?

Rumors first emerged a couple of years ago that Putin showed signs of Parkinson’s Disease. The initial source, The U.S. Sun is the online version of a large British tabloid newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch that is not highly respected. However, if there is truth to the story, it explains Putin’s reclusive behavior in the recent years. The Lansing Institute has also raised concerns with Putin’s health. They cite The U.S. Sun article, agreeing that Putin may be suffering from Parkinson’s, but they also suggest that spinal problems – possibly even spinal cancer – requiring the use of opioids or oncology drugs may be the cause of Putin’s visible ailments such as slow response time/delayed cognitive reaction, convulsive leg movements, and his “latest childish humor and confabulation manifestations” (distorted memories). (RLI).

A Man Apart

Since the beginning of the COVID epidemic, Putin has been compared to the “boy in the bubble,” thanks to his self-imposed separation from most human contact. As noted by Ryu Spauth, “Two years since the onset of COVID, the Russian leader remains severely isolated, interacting with cabinet officials largely via video and keeping trips abroad to a minimum. When he does have to meet people face-to-face in Moscow, whether it’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov or French president Emmanuel Macron they must first pass through a ‘disinfection tunnel’ and then sit at a social distance of Olympian proportions, at tables so long they have become a physical manifestation of Putin’s remoteness from the rest of the world” (Spauth). Is Putin just uber paranoid about being close to people or is he on the verge of turning full Howard Hughes: going naked, growing out his fingernails, and urinating in plastic bottles? 

Putin Is A Changed Man

The strong, self-assured Putin has been replaced by a visibly agitated man. Early symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremors, balance issues, and a lack of coordination, while later symptoms include anxiety, depression, and dementia. During the opening ceremony of the Olympics, Putin appeared to have nodded off. He woke up as the Ukrainian team entered the Beijing National “Bird’s Nest” Stadium (Twitter). In the early hours of the Ukrainian invasion, CNN journalist Nicholas Paton Walsh called Putin’s state of mind “deeply troubling,” and he noted that Putin is obsessed with the breakup of the Soviet Union, the threat of NATO, and what Putin calls the neo-fascist nature of the Ukrainian government that is threatening Russia. Putin insists that Ukraine should not be a separate nation from Russia. Paton Walsh said the whole ordeal is “quite terrifying” (CNN).

The World Is Watching

Putin has made his move, the invasion is underway, and there is no going back. A rational man would not have taken this action. We are dealing with a deranged dictator armed with nuclear weapons. At what point will the sane members of the Russian government step in to depose Putin?

Sources:

CNN. February 23, 2022, 10:30-11:30 PM, Pacific Time.

NATO. “Brussels Summit Communiqué.” North Atlantic Treaty Organization. June 14, 2021. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_185000.htm

Parker, Nick. “Vlad Shock: Putin is battling Cancer as well as Parkinson’s and had emergency surgery in February, source claims.” The U.S. Sun. November 20, 2020. https://www.the-sun.com/news/1832396/putin-cancer-parkinsons-emergency-surgery/

Spauth, Ryu. “Is Putin Sane?” New York Intelligencer. February 19, 2022. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/02/is-vladimir-putin-sane.html

RLI “Putin’s worsening health set to be a determining factor in Russia’s policy over the next four years.” Lansing Institute. September 29, 2021. https://lansinginstitute.org/2021/09/29/putins-worsening-health-set-to-be-a-determining-factor-in-russias-policy-over-the-next-four-years/

Twitter. https://twitter.com/mrctv/status/1489585499253755907

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