Dangerous Insults

Panagis Vourloomis: “Russian President Vladimir Putin is a murderer and he is destroying his own people. I shout it because I believe in it and I want to blow off some steam, but I’m a private person and what I say doesn’t matter.“.

This is not the case when such extremely harsh statements come from government officials and especially influential heads of state. As a rule, the latter carefully choose their words, speaking in public, even when speaking off the record. Because they know that what they say will be interpreted as an intention to act accordingly.

Public insults of the Russians will not help the Ukrainians, will not lead to the fall of Putin and to the speedy end of the war. The insults recently heard from US President Joe Biden and other US officials against Putin raise alarm and questions about what exactly they are trying to achieve. In particular, it is difficult to see how such disparaging remarks, however appropriate, can help Ukrainians in their unequal struggle. It is likely that they are having the opposite effect, uniting Russians who already support the Kremlin, and not only them.

Any challenge to the fitness and legitimacy of the Russian leadership from the head of a rival power is sure to touch the sensitive nerves of those who do not want foreign forces to interfere in their internal affairs. America’s verbal attacks are just fodder for Russian propaganda, which portrays the criminal fiasco as a patriotic war and its country as a victim of it all.

In addition, threats to bring Russia to international courts are of little effect when they come from people who, at some point in the future, will have to sit down at the same table. It is one thing to make threats against people like Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia or some canned dictator in a small African country, and quite another when you go to the leadership of a country that occupies one-eighth of the Earth’s habitable land, has the ability to blackmail with nuclear war and has the support, in particular, of China. Regardless of who controls it, Russia is one of the biggest players on the world stage, and sooner or later the West will have to swallow its anger and sit down with it at the big table.

The position of the United States, as projected by the international media, also makes reaching a compromise between the warring parties much more difficult and raises the stakes for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It is also useless if the Russians are looking for a way out of the war, in response to the unexpected resistance of the Ukrainians and almost a worldwide protest.

Unlike very effective economic sanctions, public insults do not help Ukrainians, bring down Putin from within, or shorten the war. After the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is only natural that the Americans should be pleased that it is now Russia’s turn. Moreover, Putin has done them a favor by once again rallying Europe under US and NATO auspices. They should be pleased with these achievements and not ask for more.


The opinion of the author does not reflect the opinion of the editors.

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