The invasion of Ukraine gives Putin a hellhole of lousy choices

Screenshot, Channel 4 News

Hopping into the Salvatore Ferragamo shoes of Russian president Vladimir Putin just to get a feel of what some describe as his pandemic-inspired geriatric mental health isn’t an experiment I’d recommend for children. So, kids, try not doing this at home.

“C’mon, man,” I told myself, “Think dictator. Think world domination. Think revenge for the now defunct Soviet Union. Think of grabbing the largest country by land area in Eastern Europe, second to Russia. Using deadly force and the silliest of reasons, why not?”

Putin reportedly has a net worth of $200 billion, a few skips below Elon Musk’s $223 billion, based on loose estimates by Forbes.

While some people love wearing their heart on their sleeves, Putin gets a kick out of wearing his country’s GDP as his sleeves: classy Brioni custom-tailored suits, maroon Valentino ties, and the A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual ‘Pour Le Mérite’ wristwatch with a price tag of half a million euros.

All that while resisting hair implants. I don’t get it.

Putin must’ve thought it an Instagram-able moment to force himself into Ukraine in the same way Adolf Hitler stormed past the borders of Austria without a single shot being fired. Problem is, Putin isn’t Ukrainian (Hitler was Austrian), regardless of several similarities they share by way of… never mind.

So, there I was, belly-down on my bed, fantasizing that I am The Great Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. It was two in the morning and my Vodka Putinka was within arm’s reach.

Huge variation in skin tone aside, I imagined myself right at the pulse of the Russian army’s command center to get a better view of my planned assault. That’s about 1,167 kilometers away from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, most likely behind the safety of a YouTube channel.

Next thing I knew, mere six days into the invasion, my armies sustained considerable losses. While this may be inestimable at the moment (depending on who’s weaving the tally), experts say my plan to first involve very young, poorly-trained Russian conscripts (Russia’s laws prohibit the use of conscripts) may have had a dire effect on my troops’ mental health.

One young Russian soldier, who was taken captive by Ukrainian forces, was already calling his mom over the phone to tell on their president. That scared the bejeezus out of me.

If you recall, it was the march of the Petrograd women — mothers, textile workers and Russia’s homegrown kitchen queens — that led to the overthrow of the Tsar. You gotta hand it to the mommies who know how to boot out tyrants.

Then I get multiple text messages from Russia’s hulking billionaires, many of whom are my Facebook friends, squawking about losing $39 billion a day due to the invasion.

As if that wasn’t enough, I get tagged in one of my friends’ posts: a Bloomberg report saying “the damage was across asset classes” with MOEX Russia Index “closing at 33% lower in Moscow, the fifth-worst plunge in stock market history in local currency terms.”

This war had knifed these Russian billionaire’s net-worth within an inch of their jugular. Now they’re gossiping about me over GChat.

The New Yorker takes a peek into the economic conditions which may well decide if my invasion of Ukraine had been wise or just plain ridiculous.

“When the international markets opened on Monday morning, the value of Russia’s currency plunged by a third.” Talk about mercury falling in and out of retrograde.

So, I thought, hell. If I can’t stage my “military operations” without triggering fallouts of all kinds, might as well move on the next best thing: shell Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The meltdown would surely put Ukraine and the rest of Europe in far worse conditions than the threat posed by Chernobyl or my earlier KGB photos.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, by the way, is Europe’s largest nuclear plant with six reactors. But then, horror of horrors, firefighters got there just in the nick of time and stemmed the blaze.

Caught in a rabbit hole of overwhelming sanctions, a stubborn, brave Ukrainian president and his fighting force, a Russian oligarchy bawling over the loss of billions of dollars, and a toxic image going viral on social media, to say little of anti-Putin’s-war protests being staged all around the world — with Russians and Ukrainians leading the pack — what choices do I then have?

Hackers. Yeah. This ought to do the trick. This is so 21st century that millennials and Gen-Zs would surely accept a bungling boomer like me as one of their own.

Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection, however, was quick to notice the “hijacking” of websites to spread lies about the invasion. To make matters more alarming, Ukraine posted its observations on, tada! — Twitter.

I hate Twitter. With horror tycoon Stephen King posting a tweet in his “I stand with Ukraine” t-shirt, my next move is to burn his books.

Stephen King’s Twitter account.

I’m now left with the slimmest of choices. I can’t nuke Ukraine. We’re well within smelling distance of each other. Any sudden changes in wind direction could have me sniffing secondhand nuclear mushroom clouds. Worse, a week into the invasion and I’m already using nonfat, skimmed milk to run my planes and tanks.

And what about memes comparing me to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un? That’s not only unwarranted, that’s vile, folks! That’s enough to make me lose my mall parking privileges.

But the real proof that my “vanity” invasion is not going exactly as planned? Switzerland. That blasted country was so deadpan neutral, the Allies couldn’t even get them to fight the Nazis in World War II. And now it’s imposing sanctions on me? That’s bias!

I snapped out of this bad dream as soon as the wife switched on her iPad. You know, marathon Korean TV novelas. Before I joined her for an all-nighter, I grabbed the nearest Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn book to drive away the fog of war from my head:

“Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle.”

This only goes to show Putin doesn’t read.

Putin losing his tyrannical grip on a war he had started could land him in a fate worse than death. For Hitler, it was suicide; Mussolini, hanging. For emperor Hirohito, the humiliation of admitting that he wasn’t all-powerful after all. Saddam Hussein breathed his last while dangling on a hangman’s noose, and Romania’s Ceaușescu, the firing squad.

As for Putin, there’s a huge chance he could end up like the American supremacist Caesar, Donald Trump.

A Twitter troll.

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Joel Pablo Salud

Joel Pablo Salud

Joel Pablo Salud is the author of several books of fiction and political nonfiction. His opinions in Medium.com are his own.