Vladimir Putin must go.
Their insane kremlin speech Friday, during a ceremony in which he feebly affirmed Russia was annexing parts of Ukrainemade the strongest case for the need for regime change in Moscow that any world leader has yet to do.
But it has been clear russian dictator he should be removed from office long ago.
It was clear why putin’s actions and the rhetoric prove day after day that Ukraine can never be safe while he remains in office. It was clear why none of Russia’s neighbors can be sure with a megalomaniac lunatic by the side who speaks of the russian empire and constantly threatens to rewrite the borders of sovereign states.
It has become clear why the world cannot be stable as long as the man who controls the largest nuclear weapons arsenal on the planet is one whose power is not controlled at home, who shows such disregard for both international law and human decency, and whose ambitions are so disconnected from reality.
Justice also demands that Putin leave office. He is a serial war criminal, one of the worst the world has seen in the modern age. He has devastated a sovereign nation. He is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. He has adopted the language and practice of genocide. His armies have committed war crimes. The mass graves bear witness to his brutality. Furthermore, his crimes are not limited to the human suffering he has unleashed on Ukraine. Other violations of fundamental laws and a myriad of atrocities can be attributed to the decisions he has made, from Russia’s destruction of Grozny in Chechnya to Russia’s active support and participation in the horrors in Syria; from the invasion of Georgia to Putin’s murderous campaign against dissidents within his own country.
Putin, for years, has provided evidence not only to international prosecutors but to every sentient being on the planet that he is not a legitimate leader. He does not deserve to be cloaked in the protections normally afforded to foreign heads of state. He has no more rights over them than the monsters of the past, from Hitler to Saddam and Gaddafi, from Pol Pot to Milosevic.
The deaths of Bucha and Melitipol or Izyum justify their absence. The same goes for the victims of Russian torture, of bombed hospitals, schools and train stations, of mass kidnappings and of the incessant terror that Russian missiles, artillery and troops exert on innocents, victims of the misfortune of living next to one of the most important places in history. repulsive malefactors.
No one could listen to Putin’s incoherent tirade on Friday and draw any other conclusion than the fact that the longer Putin stays in office, the more damage it will do.
If the ludicrous spectacle of a “signing ceremony” asserting Russian control of Ukrainian territory with Kremlin puppets and nationalist chants did not wound observers to the bone, then Putin’s belligerent language condemning the “enemy” in the West and his insinuations that it might be within their rights to use nuclear weapons they certainly should. He flouted international law. He condemned American “satanism.” He asked Ukraine to negotiate, but said destiny from “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson” was not on the table, which would be parts of Russia “forever”.
When President Joe Biden he said of Putin in May: “For God’s sake, this man cannot stay in power,” was followed by a quick “clarification” from the White House that the president was “not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.
But as we have gradually learned, Biden’s seemingly spontaneous comments on crucial international policy issues he has devoted decades of study to, whether they concern Putin or Taiwan, are not blunders. Instead, they are expressions of common sense, acknowledgments of reality that diplomats may wish unexpressed, that may not be “official” US policy, but are signs that the President clearly understands the reality on the ground and US interests
That’s a good thing because tiptoeing around the threat posed by Putin, hoping that adapting to him would lead to moderation in his behavior has certainly not worked. In fact, with each respectful and moderate response to Putin’s aggression or abuse, we have only seen an escalation of his offense.
The “measured” responses to their aggression from the Bush or Obama years did not work. Neither does the drooling obsequiousness of former President Donald Trump. In fact, the ostpolitik of Angela Merkel and the hesitations of French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders have helped and empowered Putin.
No doubt Putin’s allies, such as Fox News commentators, MAGA caucus leaders on Capitol Hill, and Putinists across Europe, will warn that even talking about the need to remove Putin from office will provoke, perhaps even induce it. unleash nuclear weapons on Ukraine or against the West. How do we know? Because that was the response to Biden’s moment of public honesty and realism on this issue.
Many others, including some highly respected foreign policy expertshe suggested that we should not “corner” Putin with a public stance demanding his removal.
Some of those experts Note correctly that the United States has a checkered history in seeking regime change. they argue that there are no good alternatives to Putin, so getting rid of him could produce an even worse outcome, be it the chaos associated with an empty leadership or a more dangerous leader.
But go back and listen to his speech on Friday. It makes it clear that we are well past the point where the dangers of his staying in power outweigh the dangers of his downfall.
Furthermore, removing the world’s thuggish autocrats and heads of state has not actually produced worse successors. That was certainly true of Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic, Pol Pot, and many others.
“… tiptoeing over the threat posed by Putin, hoping that accommodating him would lead to moderation in his behavior has certainly not worked.”
Then, acknowledging that Putin must go is not the same as making regime change a matter of public policy. For governments it can (and to a large extent should) remain an unspoken goal.
That said, certain sanctions imposed on Russia should remain in place until Russia changes key policies and positions that are indelibly associated with Putin, which in effect will mean until Putin is gone. Certain Western defensive postures must remain until the threat from Russia has subsided. We can do more than we currently do to help covertly support Russia’s opposition, especially those whose values align with ours.
Perhaps most importantly, we can guarantee that any kind of lasting Russian victory in Ukraine is not an option and that Putin’s terms will never be met, his aggression will never be rewarded.
With such policies, we can actively encourage the people of Russia to recognize that their country will have no future as long as Putin remains in power. Putin is helping on this front. By waging a massive military recruitment drive, one that can summon as many as 1 million soldiers, who will then be poorly equipped, poorly trained, and likely to be victims of a war they did not seek against neighbors who are by no means their enemies, you have already ignited the fuse of a possible national reaction. Millions and millions of Russians will increasingly feel the pain and loss associated with Putin’s war in ways that they did not feel before, in ways that Russian propaganda cannot hide or dress up
The protests in Russia are already getting bolder.
Famous Y business leaders they are speaking more clearly. How long will it be before security services surrounding and protecting Putin begin to see the fact that he is a threat to their well-being, to their lives, to the future of their families?
Accepting the reality that Putin must go is just common sense at this point. Recognizing that reality, we must adopt policies that foster the conditions that will make it a reality. We must also prepare for the consequences of such a change and make sure we send Moscow the message that Russia’s neighbors and the community of nations welcome a more responsible Russia, while making it clear that we stand ready to defend ourselves against one who makes the mistake. to continue (or worsen) Putin’s policies.
As for arguing to the Russian people that they must act, we do not need to do so. Putin, with speeches like the one on Friday and self-inflicted catastrophes like the Ukraine, is already doing it much more persuasively than we might expect.