He woke up, startled. The windowless room was dark.
His girlfriend who’d stayed with him the evening before didn’t spend the night because she had some matters to address early the next morning.
At first he didn’t remember anything that had disturbed his sleep but he knew something had.
His body was sweaty and he didn’t feel right.
He swung his legs off the bed, turned on the lamp on the nightstand and stood up.
He checked the time. It was 2:50 AM. Which meant he’d slept about three hours.
He crossed to the table at the center of the room and sat down.
Leaning forward, he put his face in his hands. Whatever it was that was disturbing him, would soon come back. That’s how it was with him. Upon awakening he wouldn’t remember his dreams but after a short while some trace of them would come back and then he would be able to reconstruct it.
Now he thought of America. Next the sanctions they had been imposing on him. Then of Zelensky. And it hit him. He had lost Ukraine.
He shuddered. He straightened up in his chair and put his arms around himself.
‘Fuckers!’ ‘Goddamn fuckers!’ He said loudly.
Ukrainian forces had killed 12 of his generals. They were using intelligence from the West to find and kill them. ‘Bastards!’
He had never, not even once, imagined that Ukrainians would have it in them to fight as they had. Not just to fight but to raise the hope that they might push back the mighty Russian army. The mighty force he’d used to threaten the world.
Now Finland was thinking of joining NATO.
Sweden might follow.
Worst of all was that he had lost the respect of the West.
He’d talked of his nuclear arms, always threatening with firing them… and now the West wasn’t scared anymore. They had gone from the wary and respectful, ‘we don’t want to use the weapons because it will be Armageddon’, to the impudent ‘screw you, Putin, if you use them, we’ll use them. We’re on to you, sucker! We won’t put up with your intimidation and bullying behavior. We’re fed up with it!’
And nowhere was it more evident than in their invigorated push to arm Ukraine.
The turning point had been Ukraine’s pluck. It was their moxie, their determination, that had convinced the West that they were worth betting on, that they could be used to get to him, because that’s all what it was, getting to him. All the talk about freedom was bullshit. All they wanted was to unseat him, so they could get some puppet of their own in power and so expand their markets. That’s all it was.
He sat up in his chair. He didn’t like losing.
And yet… maybe… Ukrainians were really fighting for their freedom and he had not got it. He was so used to intimidating his fellow Russians that he thought he could intimidate everyone.
And why not? He had got away with intimidating Donald Trump, the American president. It had been a subtle job but he had done it. He was proud of it.
But then this two bit Senator from Delaware came in to mess up his plans. A nothing senator from a nothing state who had been Obama’s vice president only because Obama needed a white face to persuade Americans that the institution of the White House wasn’t going to the dogs.
And where the hell did Biden get his gumption? To call, him — Vladimir Putin — a killer on national television. To accuse him of being a war criminal. To have the confidence to rally a divided Europe. To convince Germany to give up its neutral stance. Was that really Biden, or was it some cabal of billionaires telling him what to do?
‘Fuck them all!’
He shook his head disconsolately as he felt very sad.
He was losing Ukraine… Ukraine… a dear part of the great Russia… losing it to the West.
His eyes moistened and he felt like crying.
He had had his mind set on conquering the whole of Ukraine. Annexing Crimea in 2014 had been the start. Followed by his support of the separatists in the Donbas area and in Transnistria in Moldova. And now he was in danger of losing it all. And everything had begun with Zelensky. Which reminded him, he had to talk to Lavrov, his foreign minister. That hadn’t been wise, to call Zelensky a Hitler. A Nazi, yes, that was part of the plan, but a Hitler? It was too much.
He was feeling a little better now. Thinking about things had helped.
All was not lost… not yet. He could still… if he really wanted… use tactical nuclear weapons… drop them on Kyiv… wipe out 100,000 residents, including Zelensky and company. Xi Jinping in China would understand. And so would Narendra Modi in India. Retaining power calls for drastic actions.
He was not stepping down, that was certain.
He had Russians by the throat. He liked it that way.
But the movement to go to the West had to stop.
Belarus would not be next. It would not. If Lukashenko couldn’t hold the fort, then he’d invade Belarus and squash the resistance, do whatever he had to do.
And he now worried that as the bodies of dead Russians returned home from Ukraine, the support of the people would start to weaken.
He didn’t know how the war would end. But whereas before he had been unwilling to compromise, now he was. Still, he needed to show something for his effort… for all those generals and soldiers killed… all those tanks and planes and equipment destroyed. But he had to show something.
Unless he chose to nuke Kyiv.
But where in the world could he go after that?
And what would the West do in retaliation?
He rubbed his face and paused. Then, as he opened his eyes slowly, he saw in his mind’s eye an image of Kyiv after being rebuilt by the West. And the city looked so modern and resplendent. And then he saw a new Mariupol, a new Kherson, Kharkiv, Irpin… all brilliantly redone, because the West wanted to shame him, to entice the rest of his Russia to turn away from him.
Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.