Ukraine: US National Security Advisor say Putin is frustrated
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Diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine have stepped up with talks between Russia and Ukraine set to resume this week. Negotiations will resume after a deadly Russian missile attack on a Ukrainian military base just 15 miles from the Polish border, which killed 35 people and wounded 134, according to a Ukrainian official. This morning there was also further shelling in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, that killed two people.
Despite Russia slowly making inroads into Ukraine, hopes of a diplomatic solution to the invasion were raised after a positive weekend of negotiations between the two countries.
Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said: “Russia is beginning to talk constructively. I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days.”
Meanwhile, Russian delegate Leonid Slutsky told RIA news agency that they had made significant progress in talks and it was possible both delegations could soon reach a draft agreement.
Putin has been widely condemned for his ruthless invasion of Ukraine, the West hitting Russia with severe sanctions in response.
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The Russian leader, who first came into power in 1999, has long had a relationship with the West fraught with tension.
Since first becoming President, Putin has tried to cultivate a “strongman” persona, which has led him to be pictured playing ice hockey, horse-riding bare-chested in Siberia, and taking a swim in icy Siberian waters.
However, since the President ordered the invasion of Ukraine, academics have questioned whether “strongman” is the correct term to describe a leader that has put the world on the brink of war.
While speaking to Mother Jones, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who is the author of ‘Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present’ said: “[I use the word] for authoritarians who damage or destroy democracy and use machismo as a tool of rule (along with violence, corruption, propaganda).
“I make it clear that ‘stongmen’ are actually weak and insecure individuals but they appear to [supporters in] their countries as saviours, defenders, sex symbols at times, and other male archetypes.”
She added: “Putin’s personality cult, which often has him shirtless, is used to present him as the embodiment of Russian ‘strength’ and his cruel and violent way of speaking Putinisms, full of threats, is part of that.
“So he fits the bill of ‘strongman’ 100 percent.”
In 2018, Time magazine ran a cover story with the headline “The ‘Strongmen Era’ is Here”.
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In the article it named Putin a “strongman” for “making trouble in Ukraine” and for “embodying an image” he considers to be of “Russian virility and swagger.”
However, historians are now divided as to whether the term is misplaced, or euphemises Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
International affairs scholar Nina Khrushcheva, who is the great-granddaughter of former Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev, claimed to Mother Jones: “Putin was referred to as a ‘strongman’ back in the 2000s when he was a baby lamb compared to today.
“Putin now has gone far beyond being a strongman.
“He is a full-blown despotic, ruthless megalomaniac on par with Stalin and Mao, and proud of it.”
She continued: “It is of course useful shorthand, [but] Putin is bombing a nation of Ukrainians that he says is the same as the Russians.
“That is truly Stalinesque to kill one’s own people while declaring that is for their own good, and you are actually saving them.
“In George Orwell’s words, ‘war is peace.’”
In George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’, the phrase “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” is inscribed in massive letters on the white pyramid of the Ministry of Truth.
By weakening the independence and free-thinking of each individual through propaganda, the totalitarian all-controlling “Party” is able to force its subjects to accept anything it decrees, no matter how illogical.
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