While the World Watches, Putin’s Depravity Continues 

by | Mar 14, 2022 |

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As we watch the war that is evolving in Ukraine today, we are seeing in real-time that great evil that lies in the hearts of little men who show how expendable they think the people are whom they are killing in unthinkable numbers.  

Weve seen it all before: We saw it in Nazi Europe during World War II when Hitler’s regime murdered 12 million men women and children, including 6 million Jews, in a slaughter that was unequaled in history. Our government knew about the death camps and war in Europe, but they refused to get involved until Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor, and Germany and Italy declared war on us four days later. And they still did nothing about the death camps until the war was over nearly four years later.

And we saw it in Rwanda in 1994, when the Hutu ethnic government savagely murdered 800,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, as the world stood by and refused to intervene. The bloody slaughter continued for one hundred days, and no one stepped in to stop it.

And we saw it in Chechnya between 1994-2004, when Russian military operations leveled entire cities, creating more than 200,000 civilian casualties and as many as 300,000 refugees, nearly 50% of the population of just over one million people.

And we also saw it in Aleppo, Syria, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, where the Russians carried out the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, targeted civilians, schools, and hospitals, and perpetrated the senseless destruction of the ancient city. 

Over and over again, we saw what happened when the free nations of the west averted their eyes in the face of unspeakable horrors. And we are seeing it now – before our eyes in real-time – in Ukraine – a country that posed no threat to Russia and waged no war against it, and yet was attacked by an overwhelming military force that has turned a vibrant country into a wasteland. 

The Russians give no coherent reasons for their attack. They demand that Ukraine be completely demilitarized, or they will not stop. Period. They demand that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO. Period. Vladimir Putin, who is clearly leading a one-man vendetta against the people of Ukraine, is committing war crimes against a defenseless population of children, unarmed families, the elderly, and the sick.  

And Ukraine is not his last stop. According to Kira Rudik, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Putin has made his intentions clear, he intends to take back not only Ukraine, but also Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, and Latvia. But, she said, Ukrainians like herself are determined to do three things, to take up arms to protect their capital and their government in Kyiv, to protect the humanitarian convoys that the Russians first cynically agreed to and then attacked, and to safely get the weaponry they need into the country.

In Putin’s eyes, an independent, democratic Ukraine has no right to exist, and if he has his way, under Russia’s scorched-earth policy, Ukraine will not exist for long, because the country may soon be reduced to a pile of rubble and a massive graveyard.

His plan, however, did not take into consideration the incredibly strong will of the Ukrainian people, who refuse to be driven from their country by a megalomaniac in Moscow. And they are fighting with everything they have. So instead of a war that lasted for only two or three days, the one that Putin was clearly expecting, this war has dragged on for more than three weeks and it is far from over. The cost has been high, and the list of Russian casualties is long.

Here is a short accounting as of March 7:

An estimated 20,000 Russians have been killed in action, including three high-ranking generals and nine colonels. By March 7, 35,000 Russian soldiers had been killed, and 7,500 had been captured. And as far as the machines of war are concerned, the Ukrainians had destroyed or otherwise rendered inoperable at least 900 Russian tanks, 700 armored personnel carriers, 150 heavy trucks, 20 missile launchers, 80 heavy artillery pieces, 55 helicopters, and 45 fixed-wing aircraft. 

These numbers are continuing to grow every day, and they represent the power of a determined fighting force, including many civilians, who are willing to fight to the death for their homes and for the country they love.

Although the Ukrainians are clearly out-gunned and out-numbered, their will is strong and they are refusing to give up. This is in spite of the fact that Putin is reported to have ordered 150,000 fresh troops from northern Russia, and recruited thousands of additional fighters from Syria and Chechnya. Clearly, he does not care how many of his own soldiers die in this war, so long as Russia wins.  

And the West stands by!

And while all this is going on, while Ukraine is pleading with the West to support their efforts, even the countries that border Ukraine to the west, NATO countries, are unwilling to join Ukraine in this war. They are afraid, as is the mighty United States, of engaging directly with the Russians. 

In lieu of direct support, some of these countries, along with the US, have sent other kinds of aid: guns and ammunition, food and clothing, and refuge for the two and a half million refugees who have already fled from Ukraine. But no country has been willing to commit to putting a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which is what the Ukrainians so desperately need to stop the missiles that are raining down on them, nor are they willing to provide Ukraine with the planes they need so that they could defend their own skies. 

President Biden has also refused to provide even that support. Maybe that is because Putin has threatened to consider those supply lines acts of war, and Biden is afraid that Putin will respond with a new level of offensive war – using tactical nukes. So now, as our governments cower in fear of Vladimir Putin, the Ukrainians continue to fight for their lives and their country.

What is Driving Putin?

Vladimir Putin’s goal is to recreate the Russian Empire. He has made that clear for a long time. That is what he wants his legacy to be. So he has single-handedly started a war and has broken a long list of international laws in the process. He has ordered the bombing of civilian targets, hospitals and schools, churches, and residential neighborhoods. Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. Bringing Ukraine to its knees is how he plans to build his legacy, and it is his number one priority.  

What we in the West do to stop him will be our legacy. As long as we live in fear of what he will do, what he might do, he may well be able to ultimately prevail in his efforts to destroy Ukraine – and beyond. 

So what should Biden do? 

Should he continue to wring his hands and quiver under the threat of Putin’s nuclear threat? Of course not. Biden has a simple decision to make. Russia isn’t winning. They are meeting resistance at every turn. They have lost thousands of soldiers and a great deal of military equipment. And they can be stopped. They are so desperate over the failure of their troops on the ground, that not only are they bringing in troop reinforcements from Syria, Chechnya, and Russia, but on March 13, we learned that they had just turned to China for military and economic aid. 

Biden needs to take a leaf out of Ronald Reagan’s book. Because it was Ronald Reagan who said it best, “Our strategy for peace with freedom must also be based on strength—economic strength and military strength. Peace through strength”, he said. That is the only formula that will work against Putin and his nuclear threat.

A good plan built on our strength, a strong deployment, and a good outcome. Biden needs to stand strong with Ukraine, he needs to help Ukraine defend themselves by providing them with what they need so they can survive the Russian onslaught. And he needs to show that he is unafraid.

If Biden does not do what is necessary to help the Ukrainians save their country because he is afraid to cross Putin’s red line, then we will know that, once again, we failed to use our power for good, to keep the world safe, and we forgot the lesson that mutually assured destruction kept us safe for decades. 

Our leaders are cowards. In their weakness, they are letting the world drift into chaos and worse – the living hell created by a man who has no constraints on his appetite for inflicting death and destruction on people whose only crime was living in a country he hates. 

President Biden said that the reason he refuses to send fighter jets to Ukraine so they can protect their skies is, in his words, “World War III”. But Mr. President, the seeds of World War III have already been sown. It started when Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine without provocation, and began bombing civilian targets and hospitals, and schools. And it is not likely to stop when they reach the western border with Poland, because Putin has already made his intentions clear. He wants more. We have only to listen to his words and we had better believe him. 

Putin is driven by the power of his own hubris, and he will not stop until someone, stronger than he is, stops him. If we are not strong, if we do not use our great power to stop him, then we are nearly as bad as he is, because, in our fear, we are willing to allow the carnage and the suffering of innocent people. And quite possibly, far worse. 

Peace will only come if we are strong, and only if we have the courage to demand it, defend it, and enforce it.

Ilana Freedman

Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst with more than thirty years in the field. She was trained in Israel, where she lived and worked for sixteen years. After returning to the U.S., she served as CEO of Gerard Group International in Massachusetts, providing major corporations and government agencies with intelligence-led support for their homeland security programs. Her global network of specialists and field assets has provided her with an ongoing resource of critical, real-time intelligence and domain expertise. Today, Ilana is an independent consultant and author of hundreds of articles on terrorism and the geopolitical landscape. She has written four books on Islamic terrorism, and is currently working on a comprehensive book on China - past, present, and future.

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