As Russian Wagner mercenaries headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin (once Putin’s caterer!) raced towards Moscow in a presumed coup earlier today, the world watched with bated breath to see how this would end for Vladimir Putin.
Putin’s invasion and land grab of Ukraine, first in 2014, then in 2022, and continuing today, have killed tens of thousands, displaced millions, and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The International Criminal Court has charged Putin with war crimes, and the United Nations has placed Russia on its List of Shame for the murder of innocent children.
The world has been riveted for 16 months now as Russia indiscriminately bombed Ukraine’s infrastructure and civilian population. Most recently, Russia is suspected of blowing up the Kakhovka Dam and recklessly mining the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to cause an “accident” of mass destruction. This is in addition to Putin’s threats to widen the conflict using nuclear weapons, which would bring us World War III.
Putin has outlawed opposition to the Ukraine war (i.e., “special military operation”), and anyone who seemingly opposes him risks suffering a deadly fate like being poisoned, thrown out of high-rise windows, or suffering other gruesome deaths. Stating the obvious, the people of Russia deserve to be free, Ukraine is entitled to its sovereignty, and the world should no longer be under threat from Communism.
For now, in the latest twist of events, Prigozhin claims that he is turning his troops around from their march to Moscow. Yet the suspense of the last 24 hours still hangs in the air over whether Putin will be deposed somehow or whether he will survive another untold number of days to pursue his great ambition to restore the Soviet Union and challenge the West.
In synagogue today, if you asked your neighbors what they thought would happen, one said, “Putin is toast! While another chimed in, “No way, Putin is going to crush this rebellion!” No one really knows, but everyone thinks they have the right answer.
To this end, I couldn’t help chuckling when I remembered the old Jewish joke about some Rabbis arguing over a halachic question. When they asked the Chief Rabbi who was right, he listened to the first Rabbi and said, “You’re right.” And then he turns to the other Rabbi to hear his reasoning and says to him, “You’re right.” When his disciples then raised their objection and said, “They can’t both be right,” the Chief Rabbi responded, “You’re right too!”
Perhaps Putin dodged a bullet today, but we’ll see over time if he continues to be so lucky and who is ultimately right about Vladimir Putin’s future: will he be whisked away to some Siberian gulag or will he continue his absolute reign over Russia and its people and continue his war for Soviet-era power and dominance?