Putin Does His Best Stalin in Threat To “Cleanse” Russia

COMMENTARY Europe

Putin Does His Best Stalin in Threat To “Cleanse” Russia

Mar 21st, 2022 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Mike Gonzalez

Senior Fellow, Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Fellow

Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow in Heritage’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy and the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum fellow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Governor of Russia's Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region Dmitry Artyukhov at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2022. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV / Sputnik / AFP / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Vladimir Putin this week called for the "purification" of the motherland, urging his fellow Russians to spit out like gnats those who dare oppose him.

It was the darkest in a series of increasingly dark speeches the would-be Slavic Führer has given since he invaded Ukraine without cause.

Such salvos—appealing to Russian values and denigrating of Western wokeness—are strategic, and not just for domestic consumption.

Vladimir Putin this week called for the "purification" of the motherland, urging his fellow Russians to spit out like gnats those who dare oppose him. If Putin’s war crimes against the Ukrainian people were not enough, this chilling speech should convince his remaining fans to look elsewhere for a savior.

The Russian president took to the airwaves of Russia on Wednesday a bitter, and possibly beaten, man. Hunched over his microphone, he unleashed a tirade the likes of which has not been heard in Europe since Hitler or Stalin. Maudlin in parts, vengeful in others, the Russian tyrant played the last card left to him, that of an emotionally unhinged national savior.

"The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and simply spit them out like a fly that accidentally flew into their mouths," Putin snarled. "I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to respond to any challenges." 

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It was the darkest in a series of increasingly dark speeches the would-be Slavic Führer has given since he invaded Ukraine without cause and started shelling civilians indiscriminately, unleashing what some Western leaders say are war crimes. His outburst has demonstrated to many that his invasion of the much-smaller neighbor may not be going as well for him on the battlefield as he had planned, as a united Ukraine rises to rebuff the invading Russians.

The world must turn from Putin now, no matter what he does from this point on, even if he abandons Ukraine immediately and lets all the nations he has invaded since coming to power—Georgia, Moldova, and of course, Ukraine—live in peace. We know from the experience that appeasement begets only more global carnage. 

Putin’s speech veered from audience to audience. At times, it seemed aimed at everyday Russians, threatening them not to protest his war. At others, he directed himself at the West and those of his countrymen who may want Russia to become more like the West.

"The West will try to rely on the so-called fifth column, on national traitors, on those who earn money here with us but live there. And I mean 'live there' not even in the geographical sense of the word, but according to their thoughts, their slavish consciousness," Putin said. "Such people, who by their very nature are mentally located there and not here, are not with our people, not with Russia."

As always, Putin displayed an eerie understanding of the West’s weak points, mocking Russians who oppose his bloody invasion of neighboring Ukraine as people who "cannot live without oysters and gender freedom."

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Such salvos—appealing to Russian values and denigrating of Western wokeness—are strategic, and not just for domestic consumption. Amplified by his propaganda apparatus in the West, such as Sputnik Radio and RT media platforms, they have earned the Russian dictator misguided supporters in the West. One well-known example is the French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, who has described Putin as the "last resistance fighter against the storm of political correctness." 

Leftists, too, have bought Russia’s attacks on the West, or at least welcomed his money. In France itself, the communist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has said that Putin’s Russia is "not an enemy," and that the United States must stop trying to "annex Ukraine to NATO." In Spain, too, the communist Podemos party, a member of the ruling coalition, has stopped the shipment of weapons to the Ukrainians.

Now that Putin has demonstrated himself to be this unhinged, perhaps the extremists he has bought in the West will start looking for a new lodestar or money bag.

This piece originally appeared in Fox News