Washington — I hate Russian President Vladimir Putin! I would put him in a category with Fidel Castro, Adolf Hitler, and his countryman, J.V. Stalin. It took Castro, Hitler and Stalin years to achieve their distinction, at least with me. KGB Col. Putin moved more rapidly, but now he has arrived. He is a full-blooded tyrant.
People throw the term “hate” around very cavalierly, at least in politics. I recall former President Donald Trump introducing me to one of his acquaintances thus: “You know how I hate the Clintons. Well, let me introduce you to a guy who hates the Clintons even more than I hate them.” As Donald saw it, that would be me. No, Donald, I really do not hate the Clintons. I would not consign them to hell or even to purgatory. I am not saying that I have not been sincere in wishing them grief, but to really “hate” someone, that person has to be singularly evil. Over the last few days, as the carnage in Ukraine escalated, the impresario of that carnage has earned his place in hell. KGB Col. Putin, that person is you.
With no provocation whatsoever, you have invaded a neighbor's country -- incidentally, it looks like a very pleasant country -- and caused utter destruction, mayhem and murder. I doubt there is one person left in Ukraine whose life has not been utterly turned upside down, at least for now. For that matter, you have spread chaos throughout the world.
As I wrote in this space a week ago, I have no animus for the generality of the Russian people. As I noted then, I had the pleasure of meeting the KGB colonel's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, and on that occasion, I told him how much I admire Russia and its cultural heritage that it has shared with the West. Since war has broken out, I have been approached by numerous Russians who share my yearning for peace between our countries. As a matter of fact, I see that Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana Yumasheva, has posted an anti-war message on Facebook. Good for her. I am of the opinion that there is widespread disagreement over the war in the colonel's country. Just last week at his press conference, his head of intelligence fumbled around on the stage with him. He was unable to recite KGB Col. Putin's line on the ongoing atrocities in Ukraine. KGB Col. Putin, of course, humiliated him in public, but his corrections came too late. The crack in the facade was apparent for all to see. It will get larger.
I think it was a mistake for KGB Col. Putin to allow Western television to film the embarrassing proceedings in Ukraine, assuming he could have prevented it. There we have an army of defiant Ukrainians holding back a Russian army that outnumbers it hugely. We have already seen things that are going to be very difficult to explain. There are the Russian corpses that have been abandoned on the countryside and Russian vehicles. Or how about the film clip of a heavy armored vehicle that crossed a road to the oncoming side of it so as to flatten a tiny automobile filled with fleeing passengers? That was no military target. Then there are reports of Russian tanks running out of fuel and of utterly demoralized Russian troops. All this has been captured on film and is appearing on television and the internet beyond Ukraine. It does not look good for KGB Col. Putin.
There are the reports of KGB Col. Putin's health. I touched on my suspicions that all was not well with the colonel last week. I mentioned that I noticed a moment of hesitancy in his eyes. I added that his upper body looked somewhat flabby and suggested that he does not seem to be the fit KGB officer that we used to see in times gone by. Now reports are leaking out of Moscow that others have noticed it, too. He is not as keen-witted as he used to be. He is not as decisive. He seems a bit muddled. Oh, sure, he is capable of blowing up in a passing rage when reports come in about his Ukrainian venture being bogged down, but he used to have a steady hand or, should I say, fist. What comes next for him?