Guest Editorials, Opinion

Putin is becoming even more dangerous

As attested by Vladimir Putin’s carefully calibrated photo ops, he knows the value of spectacle.

One such spectacle took place last week in the Kremlin, as the despot held a pompous ceremony to supposedly formalize the annexation of Ukrainian territories following illegal referendums in which locals were coerced to vote at gunpoint.

The real centerpiece was Putin’s forceful speech. In no uncertain terms, the dictator made clear that his troops were in Ukraine but his war was with the totality of the post-Soviet global order, and that he could not abide by a world in which the United States and European allies were the dominant economic and military forces, framing his crusade as one of “anti-colonialism.”

This language, as well as the madman’s recent dark warning that threats of nuclear retaliation were “not a bluff,” should worry us all. Putin knows the power of spectacle, but he also knows it’s not enough. Putin is running out of options, except for the most drastic one, the lever he can pull when all else fails.

It is crucial now to cut off Putin’s power. That means supporting Russians’ own rejection of his corrupt leadership. He can always fight outside powers, but he can’t survive a collapse in his domestic authority.

This editorial first appeared in the New York Daily News.