A Dark Moment for Russia

Bloomberg headline: Vladimir Putin Is Playing With Fire in Ukraine
Subheadline:The Russian leader has fallen into the aging autocrat’s trap, making a gamble he cannot win.

Op Ed piece from

ByClara Ferreira Marques
February 24, 2022, 7:08 AM UTC


It’s a dark moment for Russia, for Ukraine, for Europe — the darkest in Putin’s two decades at the helm. It is also a point of no return for Russia’s leader, and one with lasting consequences for the world.

Putin has fallen into the autocrats’ trap. Isolated, he is no longer able to weigh up reality as it is, but sees his fears instead. He is obsessed with what he perceives as the threat from Ukraine’s westward drift, and with turning back the clock to reset the post-Cold World order. His speech Thursday — ranging from Russia’s weakness at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, to Iraq, Yugoslavia and a chilling warning against Western intervention — was hardly the product of a cool, rational mind. It could not have contrasted more sharply with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s earlier moving appeals for peace, made directly to ordinary Russians. U.S. President Joe Biden called Russia’s actions a “premeditated war.”

Hubris, paranoia, military adventurism — a heady combination, and one that has been fatal for dictators and their regimes. And Putin is starting a war Russians do not want, for which they will pay the cost.