Vladimir Putin recently declared that the Ukrainian army should "take power into their own hands and overthrow" Ukraine's democratically elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. But, really, the opposite is the case.
If there are members of Russian leadership concerned with their nation's and its citizens' future, they should facilitate Putin's arrest. He should be charged with crimes against humanity and massive theft of state funds, and put on trial.
Putin has evolved from the young KGB officer who backed down a hostile mob during the 1989 collapse of the East German Communist Party to the fully formed murderous thug and megalomaniacal kleptocrat on display today.
The May 9th celebration of the end of the "Great Patriotic War" (WWII) has become increasingly important to Russians - especially since the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The narrative of the costly victory (over 24 million casualties) has shifted over past decades - downplaying the role of the Communist Party in the victory.
The occasion of the removal of Putin and his parasitic cabal from the Russian government and economy would be cause for another major celebration.
For the past 20 years Putin and his "band of thieves" have stolen Russia's future.
Russia's natural resource wealth ranks fifth globally. Russia contains huge reserves of oil and natural gas, and has the largest mining industry in the world. It is a major supplier of aluminum, arsenic, cement, copper, magnesium metal, nitrogen, palladium, silicon, and vanadium, and is the second largest exporter of rare earth minerals.
So how much of this vast wealth filters down into the pockets of average Russians? Russia ranks 66th among 185 nations rated for standard of living/quality of life. It ranks below all of the nations on its western boarder: Norway - 11th, Finland - 4th , Estonia - 12th, Latvia - 30th, Lithuania - 19th, Belarus - 56th, Ukraine - 55th (before recent hostilities), Georgia - 48th and Azerbaijan - 64th.
"Officially" Putin has an annual salary of $140,000, but has been seen wearing watches worth more than that. Then there's his $1.4-billion mansion on the Black Sea. Estimates of his unverifiable wealth go as high as $200 billion, which would make him one of the - if not the - wealthiest person(s) on the face of the earth.
Putin's personal mission is to destroy democratic governments because their existence threatens the viability of his criminal enterprise. As long as democratic nations provide more personal freedoms, relatively functional governments and better living conditions compared to Putin's dystopian Russia, he looks like the vile grifter and extortionist he is.
Putin; along with fellow blood-thirsty psychopath, Syria's Bashar Al Assad, weaponized the refugee crisis resulting from the Assad/Putin genocidal war against Assad's own people. The massive influx of refugees fleeing Syria into Europe's democracies fostered the rise of far-right nationalist movements. Their virulent response to asylum seekers destabilized those democracies - no doubt, exactly what Putin envisioned. Now, Putin apparently is applying the same strategy in Ukraine.
Putin is fond of interfering in democratic elections - primarily utilizing social media. It's time for nations victimized by his meddling to turn the tables by revealing the extent of his decades-long malfeasance and criminality. Blocking social media inside Russia would be Putin's obvious response, but a persistent and comprehensive effort would eventually seep through even his censorship. There appears to be a significant audience in Russia for such information.
Given the current existential threats to humanity - climate disruption, deadly pandemics and nuclear annihilation (made more relevant by Putin's recent threats) - despots like Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are anachronisms who offer no solutions to the aforementioned challenges. More often than not, they make matters worse - offering only self aggrandizement, delusions of grandeur, corruption, incompetence and brutality.Russia doesn't have to be a thug state - an international pariah. Russia can be peaceful and prosperous, but first it has to rid itself of Putin. Putin's current unhinged aggression has no good outcome for anyone. It has highlighted the need for regime change in Russia - for the sake of Ukraine and the rest of the world. Only Russians can accomplish it.