Vlad the Mad is playing Russian Roulette with six chambers loaded

I explained a month ago that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a disaster for Russia in today’s global economy. Russia would be financially crippled by sanctions and would alienate its European oil and gas customers.

Moreover, I explained, the Ukrainians are not defenseless, and would probably put up a spirited fight. The Russians had little to gain in an invasion and much to lose. I confidently concluded that Vladimir Putin was not foolish enough to invade.

Events have proved me right in every respect except my conclusion. It turns out that Putin was indeed foolish enough to invade.

His invasion has not gone well. The Ukrainians have destroyed hundreds of Russian tanks, aircraft and artillery. They’ve killed four Russian generals. They’ve blunted the Russian attack and are now counterattacking. 

Stymied by a Ukrainian resistance that is not just spirited but heroic, the Russians have resorted to systematically murdering Ukrainian civilians. They figure that If they can’t conquer Kyiv, they’ll obliterate it.

The Russians expected to win this war in days. Their conscripts are now badly equipped, badly trained, badly fueled, badly warmed, badly led and badly fed. Most of all, they’re badly motivated in fighting Ukrainians who are defending their homes and families.

The best Putin can hope for is a long slog through Ukrainian cities where his forces will be preyed upon by urban guerrillas armed with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles around every corner. 

Internationally, Russia is now a pariah to international banking, business, commerce, entertainment and even Democrats (though criticism from The Squad and the likes of Bernie and Fauxcahontas has been noticeably absent). They’re still selling some oil, but much of it is at a deep discount. Western companies have pulled out of Russia and western governments have frozen Russian assets. Oligarchs are seeing their yachts seized.

Russian bonds – mostly held by Russians – are trading for nickels on the dollar. The Russian stock market has been closed for three weeks. The plunge in Russian stocks traded on non-Russian markets suggests that upon reopening the Russian market will collapse.

Ironically, Russia’s invasion of Europe just to the east of NATO has delivered a shot of much needed mojo to that organization. Putin imagined that sclerotic and toothless NATO was out to get him. Now, they are. And they’re no longer sclerotic and toothless. Putin’s paranoia proved self-fulfilling.  

This won’t unwind quickly. Even if Putin pulls out of Ukraine tomorrow, and he won’t, the sanctions will continue for years and NATO will be reinvigorated for a decade.

Russia has already lost this war. They may still take Ukraine (though the odds of that get worse by the day) but Russia is in a much worse position than it was a month ago. For all the misery Putin has inflicted on Ukraine, he has inflicted nearly as much on his own people, nearly all of whom have nothing to do with his criminal misadventure.

Successful people take risks, but they calculate them well. Putin has been good at that in the past, but he miscalculated this one. Putin’s gambit is a game of Russian Roulette with all six chambers loaded. Whatever happens now, he loses.

Putin is said to admire Peter the Great, the 6’8” tall tsar who pulled Russia into the modern world. Putin at 5’6” will be remembered as Vlad the Mad, the little wannabe tsar who dragged Russia back to the Dark Ages.

The challenge over the years ahead will be to get the Russians back here rather than letting them drag us back there. Putin’s, um, retirement would help.

35 thoughts on “Vlad the Mad is playing Russian Roulette with six chambers loaded

    • Entirely possible. I remember back in the 1970s “60 minutes” had a show on techniques used by the Stasi to kill political enemies. They had a little button loaded with a radioactive substance they would sew into a target’s suit. The button released a radioactive vapor that concentrates in the brain and causes death by brain cancer within a year. What if someone did this to Vlad? He probably did it to others innumerable times and discovered the button, but too late to prevent the inevitable.

  1. What a tragedy for all the human beings whose lives are being destroyed. (Then there is the matter of the billions of dollars of terrible damage being done to The Ukraine). As for Putin he is a KGB trained thug who believes (believed?) that might makes right. Like Hitler before him, he is doubtless surrounded by frightened sycophants’ who have created a bubble of misinformation in which their inglorious leader functions. The reality, about which his circle is likely too frightened to inform him, is very different. No winners here.

  2. Everything said here may be true, or it may not; the information on which it is based is almost exclusively coming from Ukrainian or pro-Ukrainian sources. Russian media has largely been silenced here in the West, and of course, it is controlled at the source. However, it is my opinion that 90% of everything we are being fed is propaganda. Meanwhile, half the politicians in Washington are suffering from a potentially terminal case of war fever, based on the same skewed information. I can only compare it to the post-911 political climate, but even then, we did not act precipitously, after actually having suffered a physical attack on our home soil with loss of almost 3,000 lives. Today, our stupid political class (supported by an equally stupid portion of our citizenry, if polls are accurate) are willing to risk a nuclear war with “Mad Vlad.” Do these people not understand that Putin controls 6,000 nuclear warheads, each one having the potential to destroy New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, etc.? Why has it suddenly become de rigueur to demand that America embroil itself in a war in which we have no national interest? I realize that we have been gripped by many insane ideas recently (LGBTQ, trans madness, CRT, Covidiocy, ad nauseam) and suffered through the Occupy Wall Street, ANTIFA, BLM, George Floyd rioting that was carried out with the imprimatur of the democrat party, but the idea of enacting a “No-fly Zone” in Ukraine is the most idiotic and dangerous one yet. Does anyone think that the Russians would refrain from launching their batteries of S-400 and S-500 anti-aircraft missiles as soon as the first non-Russian airplane engage one of its own? And when American airplanes and pilots are shot down, what do we do then? Escalate by using our anti-radiation missiles against those Russian batteries located on Russian soil? Nuclear war is at that point inevitable. Dear God, I pray cooler heads prevail and we stay our of this European war.

    • Propaganda or not at the root is a madman intent on destroying Ukraine and their desire to align with western civilization. The images from private cellphones and reputable newsfeeds tell the story of careless disregard for human life, more explosive but on par with the killing of a baby in the womb but careless disregard never-the-less. Since there are distributions in all populations one can only how many other madmen are lined up behind Putin to carryon the madness once he is gone. The only lasting solution is a revolt of the Russian people themselves against the dark age mindset of Putin and his cronies.

      • What are we to believe besides what we are told and see on the news? Try this for propaganda…
        LONDON/LVIV — “A poorly edited video purporting to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly capitulating to Russian demands drew widespread ridicule on Wednesday, but experts said it could be a harbinger of more sophisticated deceptions to come.
        The video appeared to show an ashen-faced Zelenskyy speaking from the presidential lectern and urging his countrymen to down their weapons in the face of Russian invaders.
        It is not clear whether anyone was convinced. Internet users immediately flagged the discrepancies between the skin tone on Zelenskyy’s neck and face, the odd accent in the video, and the pixelation around his head. A Facebook official later said the company was removing the footage from its platform.
        Nina Schick, the author of “Deepfakes,” said the video looked like “an absolutely terrible faceswap,” referring to programs that can digitally graft one person’s face onto another’s body — part of a wider family of computer techniques that can create hyperrealistic forgeries known as “deepfakes.”
        Two weeks ago, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency put out a short video alerting the country to the danger of deepfakes, alleging that the Kremlin was preparing a stunt involving one.”
        https://ottawacitizen.com/news/deepfake-footage-purports-to-show-ukrainian-president-capitulating-2

      • It sounds like this deception was immediately debunked, as most propaganda is. (This is another reason I seldom go to FB, a site notorious for propaganda of all stripes and a company that is truly evil)

      • Glenn, I’ve been facebook sober since 2017. It’s become a dreadful platform and it’s always been a colossal waste of our precious time on Earth. The poisonous thing about Russian propaganda is that the Russians are at a disadvantage regarding their menu of information, even disinformation. If they saw the FAKE Zelensky making the false plea, chances are that they won’t see the debunking of the claim, thereby continue to send their children into a war that has no foreseeable end unless Europe decides to end it. I agree with you about providing munitions-drones-weaponry-etc. And food. Lots of food, and blankets, and medical assistance.

  3. “Putin’s paranoia proved self-fulfilling.”
    No coincidence how that transpires.
    Your musings on this subject have been worth the read.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day Glenn!
    Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold pint and another one!

    May you be at the gates of heaven an hour before the devil knows you’re dead!

    May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

    If you’re lucky enough to be Irish… You’re lucky enough!

    May you be at the gates of heaven an hour before the devil knows you’re dead!

    Here’s health to your enemies’ enemies!
    Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.

    May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, and never catch up.

    It is often that a person’s mouth broke his nose.

    May your home always be too small to hold all your friends!

    • As we all would. The question becomes, how far are we willing to be pushed by a nuclear threat? Do we let aggressors threatening nuclear war take Ukraine? Then Poland? How about Germany? France and the UK? Japan? The eastern seaboard of America?

      Once we commit to doing whatever is necessary to avoid nuclear war, we’ve told aggressors that they can have anything they want by threatening it.

      The sentiment that “this is not our fight” and “we need to avoid another World War” was precisely the same sentiment of Neville Chamberlain leading up to WWII — a sentiment that is broadly recognized as emboldening Hitler to take Poland and then France.

      This IS our fight. Nations stand together against totalitarians or fall one by one.

      • For the next three years (for obvious reasons), I would not want to commit our nation’s youth to WMD and trench warfare deaths and dismemberments for a cause that has the likelihood of grinding on until the media industrial complex decides they are bored with it all – so “let’s call it a draw” and go our separate ways ala Afghanistan, The Moge, Indochina, Lebanon, Benghazi, etc., etc. American families being left mourning the wasted deaths of their children and tending to the physically and mentally wounded from a cause that was once considered very necessary but no longer is considered conventional wisdom.
        Another major issue has to do with what will Russia’s next aggression entail. If they end up annexing Ukraine, then what’s NATO’s plan when Russian paranoia results in targeting the ‘threatening’ countries bordering Ukraine which includes Poland, Belarus, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova? NATO has a stake in those nations too, right?
        Glenn, your Mossad scenario is resonating on Day 22 of this manufactured war.

      • But the choice is not to (1) surrender or (2) send American troops.

        There’s lots of middle ground such as getting out of the way of Poland’s desire to send old MIGs.

        On the spectrum between doing anything and doing nothing, I personally think America should do more. Reasonable minds can differ about this.

      • Nations stand together against totalitarians
        A nation can’t get anymore totalitarian than Saudi Arabia, it is, after all, the property of one family that beheaded 80 people at the same time a few days ago. Nonetheless, the US considers them staunch allies and has no objection to their ongoing war in Yemen. And where were the American objectors to the US military blowing apart hundreds of civilians in places like Fallujah and Sarajevo? Nobody really knows what’s going on in Ukraine or Russia, though it seems the US has been financing bio-warfare science, just as it did in China.

      • Glenn, I’ll just remind you that Neville Chamberlain’s error resulted in the equal-but-opposite error whereby we submitted for decades to come to the slippery slope fear of nations falling one by one, for example in Southeast Asia, getting us into Vietnam, which our generation decisively declared was NOT “our war.” I, for one, cannot possibly imagine Russia’s aggression extending beyond Ukraine since, as you have just explained, that has been such a hare-brained disaster.

      • I suppose this will earn me no fans in Wokeville, but I think what we did in Vietnam was the right thing to do and may have saved SE Asia from the march of Imperial Communism. The way the war was CONDUCTED, however, was of course terrible.

        The fact that Chamberlain was wrong to let the Nazi’s overun Europe doesn’t mean we were wrong to stop the Communists from overrunning SE Asia.

      • I just got back from a lecture about the Flying Tigers given by the cousin of Major General Charles Rankin Bond Jr. who piloted a P-40 in China as part of a secret program, the American Volunteer Group, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, under Gen. Claire Chennault. They had about 30 flyable planes and were credited with nearly 300 Japanese kills. I’m guessing that today, lawyers wouldn’t allow another American Volunteer Group to help Ukraine destroy foreign invaders. Because lawyers…and nukes.

      • Fair enough, Glenn. Vietnam may have been a “just war,” just as Joe McCarthy’s crusade to rid our government of Stalinists was a laudable enterprise, but both came at a crippling cost to our national cohesion and confidence in government, perhaps as you say because of the way they were conducted and, even more so, the way they were covered by media. I know Vietnam prompted me to make stupid choices, just to avoid the draft.

      • Chad, I missed the draft by just one year. That enabled me to say that if I’d been born a year sooner, I might have gotten a long vacation in Canada.

        But it was BS. It was mostly a pickup line in singles bars, and not a very effective one. If I’d been drafted, I would have shown up for duty, mostly because I was too chicken-shit and unimaginative to do anything different. I admire your courage.

        Weirdly, I got interested in the Special Forces in my 50s. I convinced myself (mistakenly) that I could qualify physically (but there’s a lot more to it than doing a lot of pushups). Alas, investigation revealed that, regardless, I was too old (perhaps that’s why I got interested).

  4. A fine summation. Indeed, this would be a worthy addition at the end of Barbara Tuchman’s book “The March of Folly.”

    Just one question. Would dragging the Russians back here (to the Postmodern West) be preferable to allowing them to drag us back to the Dark Ages? I share the opinion of Michael Leahy, of the Irish Freedom Party, that the EU is another Soviet Union, by a different name — so sharply is it now limiting personal freedoms and reshaping the moral landscape. No, we don’t bomb maternity wards and children’s shelters, we just dismember children in the womb, by the millions. We’re told that there’s a difference, but I’m not sure it will matter in any moral reckoning that may lie ahead. And we incarcerate January 6 “dissidents” with only the ghost of due process; Canada arrests a pastor multiple times and puts him in solitary for giving a 20-minute speech to truckers in Ottawa; and we cancel the Tulsi Gabbards among us whenever we don’t like what they say.

    I guess I see the conflict over Ukraine as a schoolyard fight between two bullies. Putin is the more no-holds-barred vicious of the two, but the Woke West is learning fast how to control populations with the same totalitarian efficiency. A victory by either bodes ill for humanity.

    • I disagree. I don’t see moral equivalency between America and the EU on one hand and Russia on the other. I think drawing such equivalency requires a real cherrrypicking of world news.

      • Well, I didn’t say the two are equivalent, acknowledging that Russia is the greater bully. I also implied that we’d be better off under the coming New World Order dystopia, but still not well off. Are we supposed to settle for “the lesser of weevils”?

        But let me try another angle. I’m not the kind of Christian who believes in divinely authored scourges and chastisements. But I am fascinated by the Greek understanding embedded in the goddess Nemesis — “the winged balancer of life, dark-faced goddess, daughter of Justice,” the one who “metes out what is due.” Certainly Ukrainians do not “deserve” their pain and suffering, but the hubris, corruption and decadence of the West IS “due” for a comeuppance, and Putin is the lash (as in “backlash”) that Fate (in the Greek sense) has loosed upon it. Other lashes may follow.

        If nothing else, Putin is holding up a mirror to what we are on the way to becoming. Can we learn from this?

  5. Glenn, of the bordering countries to Ukraine, four of those six countries are NATO members including Poland. This “Peter the Great” wannabe will easily manufacture an excuse to flex hard on any NATO nation that dares to engage in air-to-air combat with his pilots. The next step from Mr. Paranoia will likely be a tactical nuke (only tactical to the people not nuked), maybe several, because, reasons.
    I don’t know what to do about this, but I don’t trust the misfits in the Biden administration to make this level of a decision.
    I’d like for Joy Behar to get to go on her much anticipated vacation to Italy.
    Thanks for your reasoning.

    • Ok, but if you don’t draw a line in the sand at Ukraine, then where?

      It’s a sincere question. At what country would you first say “You shall not pass”? Poland? Germany? UK? America?

      • Ukraine, of course. I think the focus should be like you asked, “how far are we willing to be pushed by a nuclear threat?”
        That ‘threat’ is already making decisions for those in charge. Dare I ask? What would a President Trump do? He’d probably do a whole lot of threatening on his own. Who is to say for certain that the Trump approach would result in thermonuclear warfare instead of a dominating forced peace?
        Lay it all out for Putin. Make sure everyone in Russia knows what is in store for them if their president doesn’t withdraw every soldier (in uniform or in civilian cloths) immediately. Hell, if that doesn’t work, then Joy might not ever get to Italy.

      • The red line is a NATO border or all is lost. In an Ideal World the UN would insert troops to deflate Putin’s aggression. Binden should demand the CCP take a side and force their hand. The US leadership is clearly the product of a generation woefully lacking a clear knowledge of history, logical thinking skills and the ability to understand confounding interactions let alone the ability to step back and understand the system as a whole.

      • “Ok, but if you don’t draw a line in the sand at Ukraine, then where?” At the invasion of any country with which the USA has a mutual defense treaty.

    • I see the greatest threat emerging from Russia’s pyrrhic victory over Ukraine is the obvious incompetence and weakness of Russia’s military leadership. China, though now an ally of Russia, will be emboldened to reclaim Siberia. If the alliance between Russia and China collapses post-Ukraine conflict, the threat of a major conflict between those two countries increases greatly. Should China’s military prove to be as much of a paper tiger as Russia’s has, then the risk of nuclear escalation is significant. Putin is an egomaniacal fool. Lets hope Xi is not as foolish.

  6. Napoleon had his Waterloo, Santa Anna his San Jacinto. When you initiate combat you let loose forces that cannot always be foretold.

  7. As stated clearly by The Bruce Dickinson, immortally played by Mr. Christopher Walken (of Deer Hunter fame – see re-characterization photo above), while producing “The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult,…”I gotta have more cowbell!”
    Goin to Florida for a week (space coast). Y’all have a good-un.

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