Dangerous game Putin is playing

Matein Khalid
A paranoid autocrat is never a rational decision maker and has historically sent untold millions of humans to their deaths for nothing. So Adolf Hitler ranted and raved in his Berlin Führerbunker even though it was obvious that Nazi Germany had lost the war by late 1944.

Stalin cynically starved millions of people in Ukraine and Mao’s Great Leap Forward cost 50 million lives in history’s worst man made famine. Putin is a paranoid autocrat and his decision making in the future may not necessarily follow a rational calculus. This means that the risk of a catastrophic escalation in the Ukraine war into a confrontation between NATO and Russian combat troops is all too real.

The geography of Ukraine suggests that escalation risk has spiked since last week. Ukraine borders Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. All NATO members and once a former part of the Tsarist/Soviet empire that Putin yearns to resurrect.


The success of financial/banking sanctions alone may convince Putin that the West no longer will countenance his regime and thus he should escalate his unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. This is why the Russians have targeted sites with cruise missiles so close to the Polish border that they have set off sirens in Poland. Any accident or miscalculation on the battlefield could trigger a lethal chain reaction that could escalate into direct military confrontation between NATO and Russia.

It is obscene that Putin claims that he invaded Ukraine to root out Nazis when President Zelensky, a global hero now, is himself Jewish and lost three uncles in the Holocaust. Something is dangerously wrong in a world where a paranoid Russian dictator with no concern for the lives of his own young soldiers, let alone all his victims in Syria, Chechnya, Georgia and the Donbass can trigger the collapse of the Russian economy and provoke a fatal, East-West confrontation at least as serious as the Berlin Airlift, the Cuban missile crisis or the Red Army’s invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan.

Putin’s regime has looted hundreds of billions of dollars that is now squirreled away in Swiss/Austrian alps (Bankers in Vienna speak of the “Satan Trust” and the cognoscenti of global finance know exactly what this is), myriad money laundromats of offshore peekaboo banking and glitzy real estate from Manhattan to Londongrad. This is the stolen wealth of the Russian people, looted even before the end of the USSR by KGB elites and organised crime bosses with access to hard currency and expensive private banksters.

Putin’s order to put the Russian nuclear arsenal at full alert is a cynical threat of nuclear blackmail against human civilization. This man is unhinged from reality and his brutal regime is now a threat to world peace. Russia suffered 30 million deaths from mass starvation, the killing fields of the Gulags and wars because Stalin was a paranoid mass murderer. Russian generals must not forget their tragic history and their oaths to Rodina.

Matein Khalid is Strategic Advisor – Asas Capital

Also published on Medium.