All the power of the cowardly dictator rests only on bayonets.
Today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet with US leader Joe Biden in the United States and address the US Congress. What could be the practical and symbolic results of this meeting?
Grigorij Mesežnikov, a Slovak political scientist and president of the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) (Bratislava), answered these and other questions of Charter97.org:
— I think that practical and symbolic results will be associated with US support of Ukraine's struggle for independence against Russian aggression. It seems to me that this visit should strengthen the ties between the two countries. The US is now a crucial partner of Ukraine. I really would like America to at least partially change its position regarding the repulse of Russian aggression, change it in the sense that Ukraine should be able to fight Putin using US weapons, including on the territory of the Russian Federation.
Russia uses weapons and military equipment concentrated on its territory against the civilian infrastructure of Ukraine, increasing the number of civilian casualties. I hope the United States will reconsider its attitude and eliminate the asymmetry that now allows the Russian Federation to destroy Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. Unlike Russia, which wages war using barbaric methods, Ukraine acts as a civilized, responsible state, does not bomb or shell residential areas and will not do it in the future.
As for the symbolism, firstly, it is a meeting with the President of the United States. This is already symbolic in itself. Secondly, as far as I know, Zelensky should speak in the US Congress. He received an official invitation from Nancy Pelosi, who is the speaker of the US House of Representatives.
This will draw the attention of the entire world community. The meeting organized for Zelensky in the US Congress is of great importance. The two main American political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, will show their unequivocal support for Ukraine.
— You've mentioned the possibility of using American weapons on Russian territory. Does this apply to Russian military bases in Belarus?
– This situation differs. We have discussed this topic and I still believe that Belarus will not take a direct part in military aggression with its armed forces.
If suddenly the Belarusian troops take part in this, then, probably, someерштп will change. Although, it is very difficult to make any predictions now.
So far, Belarus has not formally entered the war. Although it is clear that Lukashenka is directly responsible for Russia's use of the territory of Belarus. He became a co-aggressor. Recently, Lukashenka spoke about this semi-ironically but said something that is absolutely obvious. The Belarusian regime is involved in Russia's war against Ukraine.
– The President of Ukraine visited Bakhmut yesterday, the front line in Donbas, now he is visiting the strongest state in the world, and Putin's largest recent visit is to the outcast Lukashenka. Does this hurt the “macho image” that Russian propaganda has been drawing around the Kremlin's head for a long time?
– As for the foreign audience, this image has long been lost, and everything that is happening and has happened confirms that Putin is just a cowardly dictator. I just recently read that the pictures that were allegedly taken during his visit of the occupied territory were actually taken in the Rostov region.
Everyone knows that Russian propaganda spreads fake news. In fact, the whole ideological background of the Russian aggression against Ukraine is based on various kinds of disinformation, on fake facts that are presented as scientific justification, but in reality, it's all a big lie.
During the course of the war, of course, many of the events that Russian propaganda presents as real either happened differently or did not happen at all. The "macho image", perhaps, has an impact on the most "frostbitten" part of the Russian people. Nevertheless, it seems to me that even Russian critically thinking people realized that he was not a hero-defender, but a man who was afraid for his life. The entire power of the cowardly dictator rests only on the suppression of resistance. Hundreds of thousands of guards from paramilitaries are protecting him. I am talking about such formations as the Russian Guard, the Federal Protective Service, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Federal Penitentiary Service, etc. This is the real source of Putin's power: the impossibility to replace him with democratic elections and an ordinary political mechanism. He sits, in fact, on the bayonets of all these armed formations that protect him. Actually, what is happening now is just confirming this.
— Continuing the theme of cowardice, Putin also canceled his annual press conference and address to the Federal Assembly. Can such moments of weakness become a signal to his entourage that the leader is weak, that power should be taken into their own hands?
– It's difficult to give an assessment. His entourage is also responsible for what happens. The relationship and common responsibility are connecting them. A significant part of Putin's entourage benefits from being part of this power mechanism.
I think that after all, the victory of Ukraine and the defeat of the Russian army may eventually affect both the mindset of Russian society and the very entourage of Putin.
If we talk about the demonstration of Putin's weakness, then his entourage constantly finds some kind of excuse, trying to smooth over the impression that he is weak. I emphasize that all of his so-called direct lines on TV were always prepared in advance, passed according to a given scenario.
Apparently, Putin is afraid that someone may still break through with an unpleasant question and it will be difficult for him to answer it in a way that makes everything look plausible. They carry out a complete sweep to avoid any, even the smallest miscalculations. People are accustomed to this and it does not give the Russians the impression that Putin has really “ended”, that is, he has burned out.
While Russia is still able to somehow hold its positions in Ukraine, I think that the people and his personal entourage will still be in limbo. But as soon as the Ukrainian victory becomes a reality and the Armed Forces of Ukraine truly expel the occupiers from part of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia regions and Crimea will be liberated and the Russian army will leave Donbas, as it recently fled from the Kharkiv region, then, I think, there will be a turning point in the minds of the Russian society and Putin's entourage. And they will try to do something with it. Possibly get rid of him.