Putin has mastered a political game of Machiavellian command and control, of surveillance and power but he remains quite clearly overwhelmed by the unmanageable complexities of the war he has invoked and inflicted as much upon his own people as upon the peoples of Ukraine and, through them, of the free world. The danger of his game lies not only in the narrative strategies and propaganda with which Russia’s own relentless perseveration and suffering becomes translated into political self-validation for the regime’s ideological pathology. The aligned danger here becomes that of the self-propagating psychological experience of fear and insecurity that such conflict generates in the lives of so many human beings and that then becomes, again, self-validating fuel to stoke the fires of nationalism and internecine conflict across that whole region of the world.
Putin is reverse engineering the future of Europe, perhaps – of the planet, and while historians may render this all as some kind of mastermind plan of planning and strategic effect, I think that a more honest analysis will find that this dictator has absolutely no idea what he is doing, that he is just making it up as he goes along. The yawning abyss of a profound and listless drift and vacuum of intellect and strategic direction is why he relies so profoundly upon brutalising and intimidating both his own people and those of other nations. He is not genuinely clever enough to understand that this is all precisely the most inefficient way to build or secure a nation, a legacy and a political system of belief.
It never ends well for these mobsters in the movies. The real question for all of us (on all sides of this entirely unnecessary conflict) becomes of just how much suffering and damage Putin and his sycophantic regime can cause on their own irredeemable roller-coaster ride straight into Hell.