Until recently, I thought that Vladimir had the edge on Lord B in the smarts department. That was before Vladi started a war with Ukraine. He had already snatched Crimea in 2014, so I imagine he thought it would be easy to take the rest of the country.

He has convinced himself that Ukraine isn’t a real country anyway: not a sovereign nation, but an appendage of the Russian Empire. He imagines that his empire already includes Ukraine, so it wouldn’t be an “invasion” if he sent his army there.

He began amassing his troops and military equipment along the Ukrainian border in March 2021, like so many toy soldiers. He deployed his stooges, notably Lap Dog Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, to assure the rest of the world that Russia had no plans to “invade” Ukraine.

By January 2022, there were an estimated 100,000 Russian soldiers on the on the border. They would be returning to their home bases after finishing the “training exercises,” said Lap Dog. The invasion of Ukraine began in February, but I guess Lap Dog would call that just more “training.”

Even now after the Russian army has bombed the cities of Kherson, Kharkiv and Mariupol to rubble and inflicted similar bombardment and destruction on other cities and towns including areas in and near Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, Lap Dog insists that Russia did not “attack” Ukraine. Vladi calls it a Special Military Operation, which is, of course, not an attack, an invasion, or a war.

“This is genius!” Lord Butternuts exclaimed upon hearing that Vladi had declared a big portion of Ukraine to be independent—of Ukraine. “He’s taking over a country—really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in.” Lord B gushed: “Oh, that’s wonderful!”  

The carnage and slaughter in the first month of the Special Military Operation is impossible to describe in a few sentences. There have been at least 1,400 civilians killed according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, but the actual civilian death toll is probably much higher. At least 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have fallen. There have been at least 7,000 Russian troops killed, more than the total number of American troops killed over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the New York Times.

The Times reports that at least 1,500 civilian targets have been damaged or destroyed, including 80 percent of the residential infrastructure in Mariupol. From his sheltered point of view, Vladi’s war on apartment buildings has been successful. More than 900 houses and apartment buildings have been shelled. The Russian army has targeted 23 hospitals and medical facilities, 330 schools, 27 cultural buildings, and 98 commercial buildings. A Russian airstrike destroyed a maternity hospital in Mariupol (Vladi’s Defense Ministry denied bombing the hospital and accused Ukraine of staging it). Between 800 and 1,300 civilians, many of them children, had taken refuge in the Mariupol Drama Theater when it was bombed. There were 130 known survivors.

Vladi’s Operation has displaced 10 million people in Ukraine, including an estimated 4 million refugees—mostly women and children—who have left the country. The Russians have kidnapped an estimated 400,000 Ukrainians and have taken them by force into Russia as hostages.

In a speech in Warsaw on March 26, President Biden said:

A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people’s love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness. We will have a different future, a brighter future, rooted in democracy and principle, hope and light. Of decency and dignity and freedom and possibilities. For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power. God bless you all. And may God defend our freedom, and may God protect our troops.

The spin machine immediately criticized Biden for saying “this man cannot remain in power,” as if he had directed his administration to launch a coup against the Russian president. Biden’s “gaffe” was declared a reckless pronouncement of a new policy of regime change.

For God’s sake, he said no such thing.

It only became a “gaffe” when some intellectual genius in the media called it one. Even the White House staff felt compelled to “walk back” the president’s comment. Biden has since stated emphatically that he was not walking anything back. He was, he said, “expressing moral outrage, and I make no apologies for it.”

Biden said what all people with moral compass are thinking. Vladimir Vladimirovich cannot remain in power. It will be up to the Russian people to do something about it—if they want to. For the rest of us, Biden was stating the obvious.

Biden’s speech began with a reference to the words of Pope John Paul II: “Be not afraid.” It was a statement of faith, a call to courage in what Biden called “the great battle for freedom.” We are, he said, in “a battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force.”

Biden’s ad-libbed remark was not a gaffe. It was, I think, a prayer for the world.

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