The Russian-Ukrainian peace conference now taking place in Istanbul does nothing for non-violence. The Russian delegation has orders to lie through their teeth. Ukrainian negotiators were advised not to eat the food.
But the show must go on. The roar of makeup, the smell of the crowd and the West’s delusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to stop his slaughter in Ukraine and go home raises a hope that doesn’t exist. The only theater critic who understands the reality of the drama taking place on the stage at Istanbul’s Dolmabahce Palace is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“These signals do not silence the explosion of Russian shells,” Zelenskyy said of the performance.
Russian forces are now hitting our “retreat city” even harder, says the mayor of Chernihiv
Russia has spent the last three decades convincing politicians and business leaders that all is quiet on the Western Front. Once again, their short-sightedness is now on full display, crippling Ukraine as a degenerative threat to democracy.
“A Scream Comes Across the Heavens” is the opening line of Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel The Rainbow of Gravity. Certainly there is a good chance that many people have never read this book.
Putin is not one of them.
The term “gravity rainbow” refers to the contour of the trajectory of the Nazi V-2 rocket, a gravity-induced rainbow-shaped parabola. As Pynchon describes the result: “You must have guessed once or twice – guessed and refused to believe – that everything has always been moving collectively towards that purified form latent in heaven, that form without surprise, without second chance, no return. And yet they forever hover underneath, reserved for their own black and white bad news.”
This bad news has now reduced the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol to rubble in full colour, leaving behind a conservative estimate of 2,300 men, women and children dead. Donetsk Region Governor Pavlo Kurylenko described the result as “the darkest of all hells”.
A captive Ukrainian woman watched her backyard turn into a mass murder
Putin’s quest to create new underworlds is not limited to Ukraine. He wants to do the same in Russia, from where it is estimated that around 200,000 of the country’s most talented citizens, mostly young people, have already fled to the West. Putin and his cronies have no problem turning their country into mediocrity.
Vladimir Lenin, using a ruder term, called the creative class, now in exodus, a protein spill from Russia’s anal cavity. Joseph Stalin wantonly slaughtered about 16 million of them, although historians are still counting.
“It’s happened before,” Pynchon wrote, “but now there’s nothing like it.”
Putin is hopelessly barbaric. He’s in Ukraine to set an example, to scare, to force submission, and he’s given himself a mandate to remain at the helm of Europe’s nuclear-armed gas station until 2036. In fact, Putin only has guns and gas, and a dwindling population in willful denial.
Putin’s geologists know full well that eastern Ukraine contains the second largest known natural gas reserves in Europe. Mariupol does not need theaters, schools and hospitals; Putin wants to fill up the bomb craters with refineries, storage tanks and drillships to tap into Ukraine’s gigantic offshore oil and gas fields. This topic is not on the table in Istanbul.
“If they make you ask the wrong questions,” advises a character in The Rainbow of Gravity“They don’t have to worry about the answers.”
What the West is asking of Russia is a set of enforceable “guarantees” that will de-escalate the military conflict, but Zelenskyy is pretty much alone in knowing that Putin’s aim is to crush Ukraine and that any promise to end the war, the beginning is point for another war.
Zelenskyy’s response: “We will not reduce our defense efforts.”
Putin does not want to de-escalate, regardless of whether he ends up making a deal that splits Ukraine down the middle. Putin wants everything and he has all the time to take everything. Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people know this. Yet the democratic world continues to miscalculate Putin’s trajectory through a Western prism. Recognizing the magnitude of this error is something the foreign policy establishment and its think tanks cannot handle.
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