The Russian-Ukrainian peace conference currently taking place in Istanbul does nothing for non-violence. The Russian delegation is ordered to lie between its teeth. Ukrainian negotiators were advised not to eat the food.
But the show must go on. The roar of greasy paint, the smell of crowds, and the West’s mistaken belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to stop his carnage of Ukraine and return home spark hope that n ‘does not exist. The only theater critic who understands the reality of the drama unfolding on the stage of Istanbul’s Dolmabahce Palace is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“These signals do not silence the explosion of Russian shells,” Zelensky said of the performance.
Russia has spent the past three decades tricking political and business leaders into believing that all is quiet on the Western Front. Once again, their myopia is now fully exposed, crippling Ukraine as a degenerative threat to democracy.
“A cry crosses the sky”, is the first line of Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel The Gravity Rainbow. Granted, chances are that many people have never read this book.
Putin is not one of them.
The term “gravity rainbow” refers to the outline of the Nazi V-2 rocket’s trajectory, a rainbow-shaped parabola caused by gravity. As Pynchon describes the result, “They must have guessed, once or twice – guessed and refused to believe – that everything, always, collectively, had headed towards that purified form latent in the sky, that form without surprise, without second luck., no return. Yet they move forever below, reserved for his own bad news in black and white.
This bad news has now in color reduced the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol to rubble, leaving a conservative estimate of 2,300 men, women and children dead. Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kurylenko described the result as “the darkest of hells”.
Putin’s quest to build new underworlds is not limited to Ukraine. It is set to do the same in Russia, from where some 200,000 of the country’s most talented citizens, mostly young people, are estimated to have already fled to safety in the West. Putin and his cronies have no problem making their country a mediocrity.
Vladimir Lenin, using a more impolite expression, called the creative class currently in exodus a spill of protein from Russia’s anal cavity. Joseph Stalin deliberately massacred some 16 million, though historians still count.
“It’s happened before,” Pynchon wrote, “but there’s nothing to compare now.”
Putin is hopelessly barbaric. He is in Ukraine to set an example, to terrify, to force submission, and he has given himself a mandate to remain at the head of Europe’s nuclear service station until 2036. Indeed, all that Putin has, it’s guns and gas, and a dwindling population in deliberate denial.
Putin’s geologists are well aware that eastern Ukraine contains the second largest known reserves of natural gas in Europe. Mariupol does not need theatres, schools and hospitals; Putin wants to fill the bomb craters with refineries, storage tanks and drillships to exploit Ukraine’s massive offshore oil and gas deposits. This issue is not on the table in Istanbul.
“Putin wants it all, and he has plenty of time to take it all.”
“If they make you ask the wrong questions,” advises a character from The Gravity Rainbow“they don’t have to worry about the answers.”
What the West is asking from Russia is a series of enforceable “guarantees” that will de-escalate the military conflict, but Zelensky is pretty much the only one who knows that Putin’s goal is to crush Ukraine and that every promise to end the war is the starting point. point for another war.
Zelensky’s response: “We will not diminish our defense efforts.”
Putin does not want to defuse whether or not he makes a deal that splits Ukraine in two. Putin wants it all, and he has plenty of time to take it all. Zelensky and the Ukrainian people know this. Yet the democratic world continues to miscalculate Putin’s trajectory through a Western prism. Realizing the enormity of this blunder is not something the foreign policy establishment and its think tanks are equipped to handle.