How Putin has sowed the deeds of his demise – even his own people don’t back his paranoid warmongering

IT is Afghanistan that has often been called “the graveyard of empires”.

But as Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine enters its second week, a possibility emerges. Will Ukraine turn out to be the graveyard of Vladimir Putin?

Will Ukraine turn out to be the graveyard of Vladimir Putin?
As his war against Ukraine enters its second week Putin managed to unite Nato. Pictured are Russian military vehicles near the village of Oktyabrsky, Belgorod Region[/caption]

The Russian President has been preparing for this conflict for years, perhaps decades. Over the past 12 months, he has been building up his forces on the Ukrainian borders.

The world watched and waited, divided over whether he was mad enough to do it.

Even those who believed he was ­definitely going to strike Ukraine tended to think he would try to seize only the country’s eastern, Russian-speaking areas.

But no, mad Vlad decided to try to swallow the whole thing. Like a python trying to swallow an alligator. His forces have pushed to gain the whole country, not least the capital Kyiv.

Clearly, Putin imagined this would be easy. He most likely imagined the Ukrainian president and the rest of the government would flee or be easily captured.

But he didn’t count on his enemy’s deep well of resolve. As we all know, President Zelenskyy stayed, and rallied his people to fight.

Madman in the Kremlin

Drunk on his own megalomania, Putin underestimated the former stand-up comic and the Ukrainian people.

They did not welcome the Russian tanks rolling into their country. They believe in their leader. And he believes in them.

So instead of rolling out the red carpet, they took up arms. Thousands of citizens — labourers and computer programmers, grandparents and their children — all queued to collect weapons the Ukrainian government began to hand out.

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Ukrainians living abroad are even flying home to join the Territorial Defense Forces and support the fight.

And not just the men, either. See former Miss Ukraine, Anastasia Lenna, and her machine gun with its natty pink sight.

Those who didn’t have access to guns began to make Molotov cocktails.
What was meant to be a swift war of aggression, over in days, now looks likely to be a long, drawn-out conflict.

It is President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people who look strong. It is the madman in the Kremlin who looks weak. It is possible in the coming days that the sheer size of the Russian military still gain some of its objectives.

It is possible that in his rage Putin will start to act in Ukraine as his forces ­previously acted in Chechnya, and try to flatten the place.

He is already threatening nuclear war. But if he does so, it seems clear the world will not stand by. Already, Putin has achieved what no one has achieved for years. He has united Nato, united the European Union and united the West.

Even Germany has allowed arms to start to be sent to Ukraine. Even Sweden, for goodness sake, which thought that the Second World War was a time not to take sides, has agreed to help arm the Ukrainians.

Already, Putin has achieved what no one has achieved for years. He has united Nato, united the European Union and united the West.

And of course the whole world, even Switzerland, has agreed to sanctions and other economic measures which are going to crash the Russian economy.

A move which Putin imagined would make Russia stronger has made every ­single person in his country — including himself — unimaginably weaker. So how did this happen?

One reason is the classic problem of a tyrant. For decades, Putin has brooded over the loss of the Soviet Union. For years, he has dreamed of putting that Cold War entity back together.

But he has not realised that while he refuses to move on, his opponents have. Ukraine is a country with many flaws, but it is a democracy where the people are used to the right to elect and throw out governments they do not like.

A right they have exercised many times in recent years. The Ukrainian people are not simply going to agree to be ruled by the Kremlin, as they were under the ­terrible days of Stalin and others.

The rest of the world has also moved on. While cyber warfare, limited tactical warfare and other forms of war remain normal, the world has simply lost the appetite for large countries rolling in and trying to conquer their smaller neighbours. The world — and Europe in particular — well remembers the 20th Century. And it does not want to return to it. Even if Vladimir Putin does.

Even his countrymen are growing tired of him. Their patience with their leader disappears by the day. Thousands of ordinary Russians are already taking to the streets to protest, at great personal danger.

How many horrific images of Ukranian children murdered by rockets sent in the name of their country can they take? How much economic pain will they put up with to obliterate a country most do not see as an enemy. A war that has no greater good.

Even the oligarchs are worried. Look at Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.

Presumably desperate not to let his club be snatched off him, his billions frozen and his businesses sunk (or his £1billion, 164-metre, 24-bedroom megayacht Eclipse, often docked in EU harbours) he is now — after his cynical move at the weekend to distance himself from ­Chelsea’s “stewardship” — playing peacemaker.

Surrounded by yes men

How many of Putin’s “friends” will desert him when the increasingly harsh sanctions start to hurt their interests? Where, even, are they?

Vladimir Putin has always been ­surrounded by yes men, but for the last two years he has been weirdly alone.

The Russian despot seems to have feared Covid more than our own 95-year-old monarch ever did. And while Queen ­Elizabeth got Covid and carried on, Putin seems to have lived in fear of it.

For two years, anyone wishing to see him has had to isolate for weeks beforehand and then be sprayed by Kremlin chemicals. Not something I would trust.

Even now, he sits 40ft from anyone he is talking to. In his isolation, his paranoia and mania appears to have grown. It may yet be his undoing.

He brooded on a plan that was meant to bring back the 20th-century Soviet Union.

As he faces a destroyed Russian economy and a long drawn-out war in Ukraine, it looks possible that he has only brought about something else.

Something unimaginable even a week ago. The endgame of Vladimir Putin.

Drunk on his own megalomania, Putin underestimated President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people[/caption]
Even his countrymen are growing tired of him, their patience with their leader disappears by the day, writes Douglas Murray

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