Russia's war on Ukraine: Vladimir Putin's televised address shows he's facing defeat and West must keep its nerve – Scotsman comment

Vladimir Putin’s televised address to the Russian people essentially outlined his three-step plan to turn defeat in Ukraine into victory.

First, by mobilising hundreds of thousands of reservists, he hopes to halt the lightning advances made by Ukrainian forces in recent weeks.

Second, after holding sham referendums in the Donbas regions, he will declare them to be part of Russia. And third, he will then threaten to use nuclear weapons to defend this stolen territory should the Ukrainians attempt to retake it.

Addressing his domestic audience, he attempted to fire up nationalistic sentiment. To Ukrainians, his main message was the same as any terrorist, just one armed with weapons of mass destruction on a frightening scale.

To the West, he was asking or, perhaps, begging for a deal: Russia will take the Donbas, the West will force Ukraine to accept this by threatening to withdraw its support, and trade relations – particularly energy supplies – will be restored.

This is a deal with the devil that we cannot accept, however tempting it might seem amid soaring energy prices.

It would allow a murderous dictator who is clearly intent on conquest to shore up his power in the Kremlin. In 2014, he bit off part of Ukraine with the annexation of Crimea; if in 2022 he is allowed to do the same, it seems obvious that, after a period of rebuilding, he will be back for more. There is no peace deal Putin will not break if he thinks he can get away with it.

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Ukrainian soldiers ride on infantry vehicles in Novoselivka on Saturday, after making a series of stunning advances against Russian forces (Picture: Julian Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)

Furthermore, the decision to mobilise Russian reservists has already sparked a fresh wave of opposition to the war in Russia. The prospect of death will do much to sharpen the minds of people who have fallen for Putin’s lies and propaganda. It’s one thing to say you believe in a cause, quite another to kill and to die for it.

What is happening now is one way in which Putin can be defeated. If the Ukrainians keep winning on the battlefield, he will be forced to ask for more sacrifices to be made by the Russian people, and they will eventually realise that dying for this evil despot is not worth it and get rid of him.

In the meantime, the West must keep its nerve.

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