Deportation of Ukrainian Civilians to Russia: The Legal Framework - Lieber  Institute West Point

It doesn’t look good for the Russian military in Ukraine. Better-supplied and -motivated Ukrainian troops are pushing-back Russian forces even in Donbas— Moscow’s more modest pivot objective after failing to take Kyiv.  What gives?  Could Ukraine actually win this war? Could Russia actually lose? Or could Putin even be deposed by a coup?

Probably not.

That’s because, while everyone outside of Moscow was gloating over Russia’s lack of military success, Putin was quietly playing his asshole card.

Yes, his asshole card.

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy said last week that Russia has kidnapped thousands of Ukrainian civilians and is holding them hostage in Russian prison camps. “Ukrainians from these camps—the survivors—are sent further into the occupied territories and to Russia. The facts of deportation of our citizens to the Russian boondocks, to Siberia, even to Vladivostok are recorded. They also deport children hoping that they will forget where their home is and where they are from. And they are from Ukraine,” Zalenskyy said.

Speaking to Chinese media yesterday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that more than a million Ukrainians are now in Russia. Another estimate says the total number of Ukrainian civilian and military prisoners is 1.3 million. 

And Putin has no intention of giving back any of them.

The Ukrainians already speak Russian, Russia was already suffering depopulation, so Putin can easily absorb the new refugees as he’ll call them.

Here’s the new quid pro quo. Whatever Ukraine demands, Putin can now threaten not tactical nukes, but just holding hostage forever a million Ukrainians.

Of course the Ukrainian military also hold tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, but Putin doesn’t give a damn about them. So there is no balance of terror.

What will the mothers of Ukraine and Europe say to this?  

If Ukraine uses frozen Russian funds to rebuild after the war, Putin will just keep the kids. He’ll use the kids and their mothers against Ukraine, against NATO, against everyone. And there’s a fair chance he’ll get away with it, too, because no (non-Russian) politician wants to be held responsible for losing a million hearts and minds.

While nobody was really looking, Russia grabbed Ukraine by the balls.

This is all illegal under international law, of course, but then so was raping and killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure as the Russians have done since the war began. Putin doesn’t care about that, either. 

Putin doesn’t need to be seen as even remotely good. In fact at this point he’s seeking to be seen as entirely bad — insane even — because that’s his last chance for pulling-out what he can call a W. 

This is one bad man against the world and the world appears to be losing.

If the CIA happens to have a tiny bomb embedded in Putin’s skull now would be a good time to set it off. If there are Kremlin IOUs that can be called-in, call them in. If NATO has a plan for destroying in place half the Russian Army overnight while rescuing all those Ukrainian mothers and children, it’s time for NATO to move.

Otherwise it only gets worse from here. And Putin wins from Stalin the all-time asshole award.  

Maybe that was the plan all along…