Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Putin is gone

Vladimir Putin during a conversation with Sergey Kiriyenko, his First Deputy Chief of Staff, 2019. Source: Kremlin.ru

The West’s first goal – to remove Putin from power – has apparently been fulfilled

Paweł Lisicki

Since February 24th of last year, the general world media has paid at least as much attention to the health and life of Russia’s dictator as to the war which Vladimir Putin is fighting with Ukraine. In consequence, I have had the opportunity to read that he is afflicted by every conceivable illness – from various stages of cancer, to a case of post-prandial confusion, to depression. Each of these was based on reports from the Western media backed by absolute certainty stemming from the authority of the Ukrainian intelligence service.

Sometimes, I admit, there were also different-sounding reports, according to which the tyrant’s health is not so bad, but, which was supposed to immediately cheer hearts, one way or another the satrap will be destroyed in another way. Not with a stick him, then with a club, folk wisdom says. Vladimir Putin was not only accompanied by all sorts of ailments of body and soul, allowing to confidently await his doomed end, but other powers of the dark side (actually light) lurked in the nooks and crannies of the Kremlin corridors. And so I learned about conspiracies, divisions among the generals, bickering cliques, and the preparation of an assassination attempt. Each day brought different variations on the same tune. The dictator was to be stabbed by a certain Prigozhin, fondly referred to as Putin’s cook, or his throat was to be slit by another member of the shaykh, the shrieking Kadyrov, or, in a more sublime version, he was to be put to sleep by an unspecified representative of the Russian elite. It all sounded beautiful, but it just so happened that despite all this heartwarming news, the Russian president seemed to be holding out. And lo and behold, I learned, the information came straight from Davos, therefore it must be true, after all, since the most wise people congregated there in such numbers that… the dictator is supposedly gone for good. This was the hypothesis put forward by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

At one point in his speech in Davos, he stated that he did not know who from the Russian side he could talk to about making peace, because he was not sure if Vladimir Putin is still alive. “At the moment I don’t know who to talk to. I’m not sure if the Russian president is still alive. I don’t know if he’s still alive, nor do I know if he’s the one making the decisions,” the Ukrainian president said.

So, the West’s first goal – to remove Putin from power – has apparently been fulfilled. The defeatists, who mentioned that in order to overthrow a dictator in Russia, one must first win the war, chase the Russians not only out of the Ukrainian territories they have occupied, but also to crush the army and capture Moscow, were wrong. All this turned out to be untrue. Simply put, as Zelensky suggested, Putin is no longer there – it is just not certain whether he is not among the living or that he has lost power. This time, however, despite the source being President Zelensky himself, there is no euphoria. Strange: after all, it should already be over and the only thing left is to finish the job.

I am writing all this to show how limited our knowledge of the events of the war really is. We don’t know the actual scale of losses on both sides. We don’t know whether Russia is going to crumble and collapse any minute now, as I keep reading about, or whether its disintegration is as real as Putin is gone. We have, I’m afraid, nothing more than just propaganda and wishful thinking. And that means it is very difficult to talk about assessing political action. So I wonder what knowledge the Polish authorities really have about the war. By deciding to rearm Ukraine at Poland’s expense (as President Andrzej Duda explicitly said in Davos), do they believe that Putin is gone and that is why they are taking such a big risk? Because, after all, that’s what President Zelensky told them.

The first issue of the weekly Do Rzeczy was published exactly ten years ago. Many at the time did not believe that we could succeed. And yet they were wrong. It turned out that thousands of Poles not only waited precisely for a voice like ours – conservative-liberal, common-sense, realistic – but still stayed with us. It turned out that in Poland there is still room for analysis and for debate, for the clash of opinions. That is why I would like to thank all those readers and promise that whatever happens, the weekly will remain as it was. We will defend Polish sovereignty and national tradition, resisting the only correct ideologies. I think this is something that all our authors can subscribe to. Reason instead of hysteria, emotion and tribalism – this is probably not the worst program for a magazine.

This article was published in January 2023 in “Do Rzeczy” weekly.