Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, catching many people off guard.
Though it wasn’t a surprise to everyone. Ever since the Western-backed overthrow of Ukraine’s government in 2014 and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, tensions have been increasing.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin wants to restore Russia’s historical empire and power. He also wants to get the oil and gas reserves under Ukraine and keep selling energy to Europe to benefit his government.
Yet, Russia’s war in Ukraine isn’t going as he hoped. Russian troops are stuck in the mud and suffering huge losses. Ukraine is fighting back hard. Sanctions are crippling Russia’s currency and economy.
Putin is enraged. On Wednesday night, Putin interrupted programs for a live emergency broadcast on national TV in which he issued a chilling – and shocking – threat.
Putin: Time for ‘Traitors,’ ‘Trash’ to be Eliminated From Russia
Russia has a tragic history. It’s full of war, poverty, and political dictatorship. Last century saw the evils of communism and the USSR, including Josef Stalin’s political and military purges which killed up to 20 million according to some estimates.
This includes Stalin’s starvation policies. Like psychotic Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, Stalin used food access as an instrument of starving to death those nations and groups who didn’t do what he said.
His strategy was brutal and effective. Stalin simply shut down their ability to get any food shipments, seizing any food they did grow, or shooting those who would not give it to his soldiers and authorities.
Stalin also sent spies to murder thousands of individuals and families of individuals who opposed or criticized him.
Now, as Russia’s economy goes into freefall, Putin shocked many Russia watchers with his statements that “traitors” and “trash” need to be spit on the pavement and crushed by patriotic Russians.
He said it’s time for Russia to have a “self-cleansing” of disloyal rich Russians who are more loyal to the West and to liberal ideas than to their homeland.
What exactly does he mean here?
The despot threatening an even more brutal purge on rights, freedom and dissent at home.https://t.co/lI02O1eto8
— Lotte Leicht (@LotteLeicht1) March 16, 2022
The purpose of this speech is obvious.
Putin wants it to be vague and not 100% clear who he means. The point is to make anybody who is critical of him start to worry about their money, their family, and their physical survival.
Putin has a firm grasp on Russia’s military and security services. He can make people disappear and never be heard from again. He can make families disappear and he wants to remind his nation of that.
Over 15,000 Russians have already been hit with huge prison sentences for protesting Russia’s war in Ukraine; you can get 15 years behind bars if you say disloyal things about the war in Russian media.
Many of Russia’s richest have fled for other countries in their private jets. Putin is making it clear he hasn’t forgotten about them or about those who are using their power and influence to speak badly about him and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Saw this version of the speech and Putin really wants to take Russia back to Stalin days. He has always emulated Stalin and this speech is definitely angrier and stronger than previous speeches. Cleansing in Russia, cleansing in Ukraine, enemies everywherepic.twitter.com/DkNKWd512L
— Olga Lautman 🇺🇦 (@OlgaNYC1211) March 17, 2022
The Bottom Line
This situation is quickly spiraling out of control into a very dark place. Keep your eyes on Russia.