Monday, September 26, 2022
Sept. 26, 2022

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Ambrose: Ukraine outlook remains murky

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a tough, smart, caring leader, and he just got the battlefield best of Vladimir Putin, a do-or-die, obsessed, evil leader.

The clever, tricky, intelligence-guided triumph was obviously encouraging and inspiriting for Zelenskyy’s fellow Ukrainians who have suffered so much.

After all, it was said by many, the Ukrainian military had no chance at all against Putin’s Russian military with its advantages galore, but glory, glory hallelujah for this brave Russian neighbor supported by weapons and other means by the United States and Europe.

Questions still plague Ukraine.

One is whether it can use this victory to pile up others to the point that the Russian military is clearly done for. Another is whether the Russians will retreat even if that happens, whether Putin will bow his head in shame, bring the soldiers home and help rescue his own people from withering away.

No. He won’t, except as a tactic.

Given what we know about the man, there is no way he would out-and-out surrender and trash his world-dominating causes. He would first have to convert to being a second Queen Elizabeth in terms of virtue and wisdom except that he might be removed from power or assassinated if his multitudinous safeguards don’t work.

True enough, he has been popular with the Russian people, although that may not last, and he does love Russia.

It almost seems that, in his inner self, he is Russia, and more than that, he is the Soviet Union, the multinational, totalitarian, malicious entity that vied with the United States to be the world’s superpower and lost and went away. It was the gravest geopolitical tragedy of all times, according to Putin, who didn’t exactly like the recently deceased, worthy Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev ended a war with Afghanistan after 10 years instead of 20. He wisely worked with President Ronald Reagan to end the Cold War and lessen nuclear threats. His dedication to communism shifted to something more nearly like democratic socialism, and when Soviet states decided to go their own way, he did not like it but did not intervene militarily.

To Putin, a former spy for the Kremlin and downright murderous in the cause of self and Russia, all of this was disaster, the end of the Earth and maybe the solar system. He lost his attachment to ineffective communism, but has brilliantly done international harm that can maybe further his ambitions.

While Russia itself is decaying, it still has mountains of nuclear weaponry, enough to wipe out this, that or the other nation. To his monetary benefit, Bill Clinton helped Russia become the world’s foremost uranium power, according to a trustworthy New York Times account, and the Biden administration has been buying uranium from Russia to supply our nuclear plants.

The quivering issue now is whether Putin might use nuclear weaponry to win the Ukrainian war.

If he does, even with toned-down missiles, what would we do? Respond in like manner and risk nuclear war or even choose to respond differently but decisively, still a gamble that might bring tragedy?

This much should be said, namely that a Russian conquest of Ukraine would be step one in trying to get other countries in a renewed Soviet Union, meaning millions more lives lost.

Those who think our financial support of Ukraine is wasted money should consider the conceivable cost of its defeat. It doesn’t follow that anything goes.

Putin, in the meantime, is exchanging hugs with Xi Jinping, president of China, ever more dangerous to the United States and the world, and someone who might back him up and sell him weaponry, for starters. These two together are an awful threat.

President Richard Nixon broke up such an alliance in the 1970s through a trade deal with China, but the good does not always hang in there.

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