In the midst of the horrible atrocities being perpetrated by Russian forces against the people of Ukraine, it may be hard to find anything to smile about in the conflict. But Vladimir Putin has managed to raise a small chuckle nevertheless by issuing sanctions against Western politicians. These usually consists of declaring that the individuals in question are banned from visiting Russia, since there’s not much more Putin can actually do to impact on their affairs.
Well, thinking over that last sentence, I must remember that he has managed to murder critics of his regime, even in places like London and Salisbury in the UK, so let’s not be too smug about it. But, aside from death threats (aside from?), the sanctions imposed on politicians in a number of European and North American countries will probably not force anyone to change their travel plans.
I suppose the ones we should feel sorry for are those poor Russian billionaires who are losing their expensive toys and homes around the free world, no longer able to fly off to Paris for dinner, or to the Mediterranean for a brief holiday on their million dollar superyachts. Their bank accounts in the West are frozen, and their children will find it hard to pay their school fees at the very expensive places they are learning their lessons. Yes, the heart bleeds…
But, as I say, it is the sanctions against the politicians in the West that can raise a smile. It seems that every time president Zelenskyy spoke to a national Parliament or Congress, the members of that body were sanctioned by Putin. How dare they applaud the Ukrainian President and give standing ovations wherever he appeared on video link! You can imagine him shouting in anger: “It’s my Party and I’ll cry if I want to”, as, in a sulk, he denies parliamentarians access to his country. “That’ll teach them”, he laughs across the room at his closest advisors sitting eighty feet away.
The state of his mind these days must be something. Does he believe his own words? Does he understand how much he has destroyed his own reputation, not to mention the once-fearsome reputation of his military? Does he really understand that he can never again find respect or friendship outside his own deluded supporters? When the Russian people discover the truth of his “special military operation”, as one day they most certainly will, which will be their greatest reaction: shame or fury?
So far, he has failed to force NATO into direct confrontation over Ukrainian airspace, something that must have been one of his war aims. He has been claiming that this is a war.. sorry, a special military operation… against NATO and the US and the Nazis under Zelenskyy. The fact that his invasion has run into such serious opposition from the Ukrainian forces on their own must be galling to him. We can only hope so, anyway.
Putin has shown himself to be what he always wanted to become: a new Stalin, a new Czar, implacable in his lust for power and for extending that power as far as he can. He has no morality, no humanity, when it comes to the cost of his ambitions. But it is also important to remember that he is not alone in his responsibility for what he has unleashed. There are those around him who enable the horror, who have thrown in their lot with him, and who know they will stand or fall with him too. Of course, they also know they can fall anyway, especially if they don’t say the right things, the things he has scripted for them to say.
It is times like these when even the most atheistic people must hope that there really is a Hell after this life. Otherwise, where is the justice for people like Putin and his heroes?
There is another positive we can take from this horrible history: doesn’t it make our Canadian politicians look so much better? Or, at least, so more boring and harmless? Even Poilievre doesn’t look quite as weasel-like compared to Sergei Lavrov, for example. Then again, swings and roundabouts: they don’t look nearly as impressive as Volodymyr Zelenskyy, do they?
There’s something else that may bring a smile to our faces as we examine the list of sanctioned politicians Putin has complimented by being their enemy. According to news reports, after Zelenskyy spoke to the Canadian Parliament, Russia sanctioned 300 Canadian politicians and some Canada-Ukrainian organisations. Now that raises a fascinating question. You see, there are 338 members of the Canadian House of Commons, but only 300 names were sanctioned. Does this mean there are M.P.’s who are not on the list? I have no time to find out by going through the lists, but I’m sure others have done so. And I’m sure many of those who have trawled through the lists are Members of Parliament.
Now, while it should be taken as a sign of great approbation to have your name among the 300, how would it feel to have your name omitted? Either Putin doesn’t know or care about you that way, or you didn’t seem worth sanctioning. Wouldn’t that be soul-destroying for anyone with the ego of a politician!
These are times of incredible evil let loose, of tragedy and barbarism which the world rightly condemns. The fact that the same thing has been going on in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and so many other places, without the same level of condemnation and publicity is also disturbing. Maybe it’s just too much to deal with in its entirety, and we need to confine our focus to one tragedy at a time. There is, sadly, nothing new about what we’re seeing, it has happened before, it will happen again, it is happening elsewhere now. But let’s keep our eye on at least one tragedy, speak out against it, and take at least one step to condemn it everywhere. People are people and will always have that capacity for hatred and war in them. We need to ensure that it is fought everywhere, especially within ourselves. Love is all you need.