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Russian Roulette

Russian Roulette
By Hal Lindsey

Since August 6, 1947 — the day the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan — thoughtful people have dreaded the day when such weapons would fall under the control of a mad or desperate man. That day has come. Vladimir Putin controls the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons on earth. And he exhibits increasingly irrational behavior, maybe because his desperation over the war in Ukraine.

When he took power in Russia, he was a cunning man, but in full control of his country and his faculties. Today, he is paranoid, physically ill, and has been humiliated by a stunning series of battlefield defeats in Ukraine. The ground beneath his feet is shifting. Official Russian government photos show Putin consulting with his closest associates as if they were lepers who might be carrying knives. He doesn’t make them sit on the other side of a large room as he did during Covid, but he still puts an unnatural distance between himself and others.

Once famously vigorous, his face is now swollen and pallid. His hands shake. Persistent rumors coming out of the intelligence community say that he is undergoing chemotherapy. There are also credible rumors from multiple sources that he often uses body doubles.

When Russia’s war against Ukraine started, military experts predicted a Russian victory in a matter of days. It’s been 17 months, and the war goes on. Putin’s troops have been revealed as unmotivated, poorly trained, and led by ineffective, unwise generals. Russia’s most celebrated military campaigns of the past started as defensive actions. With the help of winter, Russian warriors defended their homeland against the much-vaunted armies of Hitler and Napoleon.

But, despite Mr. Putin’s claims, the Russian war on Ukraine has had nothing to do with defending “the motherland.” From the beginning it has been a war of pure aggression against an undermanned, but highly motivated opponent.

With great fanfare in 2018, Putin announced deployment of the Kinzhal hypersonic missile. Putin proudly claimed that it could overcome any existing air defense system. But on May 4th of this year, Ukrainians used a US-made Patriot battery to shoot down a Kinzhal missile. The Russians said it couldn’t be true. Then, twelve days later, the Ukrainians shot down another one. So far, they have reportedly shot down six of these supposedly unstoppable missiles.

On June 23rd, the mercenary organization known as the Wagner Group, led by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, openly rebelled. Prigozhin told the Russian people what most of them already knew — the war in Ukraine was not a defense of Russia, nor was it done to remove a Nazi influence in Ukraine.

Wagner troops left their positions in Ukraine and marched toward Moscow. They moved like a hot knife through butter, easily defeating Russian defenses. A day later, only 124 miles from Moscow, they stopped. The reasons remain unclear. Some say that the Russian secret police threatened the families of Wagner leaders. Putin at first promised to punish members of the organization for “treason,” but to get them to stop the march, he promised them amnesty.

Worst of all, as the Wagner force marched toward Moscow, Vladimir Putin and his cronies fled the capital. How can a man who has long projected an air of machismo and strength live that down? When the going got dangerous, he skedaddled! The air of invincibility he once projected has clearly been destroyed. And, for now at least, that puts the world in grave danger.

I don’t pretend to know what will happen over the next few weeks, but it’s good to know that, as always, we remain in God’s hands.

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