Can Putin be appeased?

Mar 13, 2022
During World War II Ukraine was devastated by the fighting. Source: Getty

I read with dismay the recent article published on the site which advocated that the present democratically elected and popular government of this nation should try to appease the dictator Putin by offering some of their territories as a peace offering to the aggressor in the hope of the man accepting such an offering in exchange for leaving the rest of the nation alone and intact.

Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe. At the breakup of the Soviet Union it held the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world; this it surrendered in exchange for a guarantee of sovereignty from Russia, the US and the UK. So much for that guarantee! The country is rich in resources of all kinds, it also has very rich agricultural soil so with control of corruption (not easy after years of communism) and some decent management Ukraine has a great future. The country suffered terribly under Stalin’s horror purges and forced famines, millions died at the hands of another monster. During World War II Ukraine was devastated by the fighting. It deserves a good future free from the control of despots like Putin.

There is an old adage that states that those who know nothing of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. In almost living memory this scene has been played out before when appeasement to a megalomaniac resulted in the crushing of nations and the deaths of untold millions. Make no mistake Putin is every bit as evil a man as was Adolf Hitler. In the way that Hitler devoured nations as the then democratic nations backed down in front of him, so will Putin do the same if he can get away with it. Ukraine is only one on the list of territories he covets. Churchill said that appeasement was making offerings to a crocodile in the hope that he would eat you last. David Starkey the British historian tells that Putin has already declared his intentions as did Hitler in his book Mein Kampf.

Whereas Hitler said that he wanted his Libensraum – territory into which ethnic Germans could expand, Putin wants to re establish the borders of Russia prior to the time of the Soviet Union. He sees himself as a Czar – think this sounds fanciful – according to David Starkey he has a life size statue of Peter the Great in his office! Have you watched film of how the man struts alone through palaces and has the door of block long limousines opened for him by obsequious attendants. Most other world leaders act with decorum but not this little black duck.

In 2014 Angela Merkel told Obama during a meeting that Putin had lost touch with reality. Obama in his time showed weakness by scaling down the US influence and presence in the Middle East; this encouraged Russia to fill the vacuum left by the US back down. Our own Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey wrote in his book, The Causes of War, that the only defence against war is deterrence. If an aggressor senses weakness (it need not be real but could be just perceived) then they will strike at that weakness. The power vacuum left in the middle east prompted Russia to aid the Syrian dictator. Prior to that assistance, Assad was having difficulties against opposition but once the Russians brought in air power the tide was turned. Remember the amused comments from the media at the time when the only ancient aircraft carrier owned by the Russians chugged down the English Channel blowing more smoke than a warship trying to lay a smoke screen? Well that old tub made it to the Med with its cargo of modern aircraft and turned the tide for Assad and the flow of refugees to Europe started their tidal wave of assault.

Putin is as cunning as a toilet rodent but he has very badly miscalculated this situation. He has been assailed on all fronts by nations opposed to his expansionism. His military were supposed to roll up the much smaller Ukrainian forces in short order but they haven’t. Their air force which has had much experience in the middle east overpowered the locals but his ground forces consisting largely of conscripts who by all accounts were told that they were on a peacekeeper mission have met stiff opposition and have failed to reach objectives. These Russian conscripts are fighting people who are defending their homeland. Remember its not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

The German Wehrmacht that conquered most of Europe was a different animal than this Russian conscript army. The German soldiers swore allegiance to Hitler, not to the German nation. They were well trained, motivated and above all had a Prussian officer corps who were probably the best in the world. None of this is the case now.

The savage financial sanctions are biting deep where it hurts. Putin’s war chest built up to fund this expansionism has been reduced greatly by the actions of hostile powers as they freeze Russian assets held overseas, also the diminished value of the currency, down by more than 30 per cent has lessened the buying power of the Rouble to purchase overseas needs. The international opponents have banned use of the Swift banking system which allows international currency movements. The targeted financial and actual attacks on the Oligarchs who are Putin’s supporters will have diminished his support at home. Always remember money talks and big money talks big. These supporters have amassed billions with his protection but now it ain’t looking good anymore. It’s all well to say that he can cut off oil and gas to Europe but if he does that his flow of funds stop, another crippling body blow to the economy. The news is that the latest coal tender contracts on offer in Europe are being issued and they specifically exclude supplies from Russia. Our own government has contacted Whitehaven Coal one of our biggest producers with requests to make coal available to Polish buyers. European users of Russian gas are making arrangements to find alternative suppliers and this won’t be just short term either. Spot price on gas is up 50 per cent which means monies are now being diverted from Russia to Qatar and Australia the two biggest producers in the world.

With the Russian currency in free fall the Russian central bank increased the interest on deposits to 20 per cent to try to persuade people to leave their money in the banks to stop a financial run. People are not allowed to sell any Russian assets to foreigners to personally win overseas currency. How long they can maintain such interest payments and whether the populace trust them is another problem.

The international opposition is not restricted to just financial efforts. Arms, munitions and training are being supplied. One piece of news I found initially astounding was that Sweden was sending thousands of anti tank rockets to Ukraine. Now for Sweden, the most neutral of all countries, they stayed out of both world wars and every conflict in between to now break their neutrality – why? Well over the last few years Putin has singled Sweden out with threats and incursions so much so that they have taken huge steps to increase their military strength; in other words Putin has really pissed them off; not really a clever tactic in the present situation.

So readers remember the other old adage ‘It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings’. The huge fear is that Putin, being the person that he is, will when cornered threaten to pull the ultimate trigger. He’s already made threatening noises but the people around him will refuse to commit suicide with him. Hitler had many loyal followers who went with him to his Valhalla but I doubt that Putin has the same devoted following – just look at the faces around him during televised meetings.

Lets keep up the prayers for peace.

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