The end of the beginning? Or just the end of the prologue?

There’s a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.

What do you get the person who has everything? More of what they have?

Another, slightly related question – what was Vladimir Putin trying to achieve with his invasion of Ukraine? There are people well-versed in the Russian psyche, in Russian politics and in the way the Russian President has developed his stranglehold over the people over the years, who have no real idea of the answer.

Every time I see another news story about something that happens in Ukraine, I wonder what on earth he was thinking.  Maybe it’s a case that he has managed to amass so much wealth from his accolytes and oligarchs that he has no need for more stuff, so what else is there but to get more land?

Take four people. Men, in fact, I’m not sure if that’s relevant. I suspect it might be. Also, all American, which I’m pretty sure is even more relevant. Four very, very, very rich people, and have a look at what they do with their money.

Elon Musk:  calls his children peculiar names, libels someone on a public forum and then tries to buy that very forum in order to promote the idea of freedom of speech.

Jeff Bezos: launches Amazon from his garage, then turns it into a retailing behemoth, becoming as rich as Croesus in the process, then fritters chunks of it by launching his own space programme

Warren Buffett: business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. His shrewd readings of financial markets made him the sixth richest person in the word. He’s pledged to give 99% of that wealth away, and is doing so, working closely with…

…Bill Gates: business magnate, software developer, investor, author, and philanthropist, co-founder of the ubiquitous Microsoft. Set up the world’s biggest private charity and has been instrumental, via his donations, in helping to eradicate the wild polio virus in Africa.

Then there’s Putin. No-one exactly knows how rich he is, nor where that is all stashed, but, politician though he may be, humble civil servant he ain’t. So, he can’t think what to do with all that money, there’s nothing left to buy, so he’ll invade a nearby country instead.

Only it hasn’t worked the way he thought it would. Was he told that it was a daft idea and didn’t listen? Or did no-one want to risk ending up in jail with Navalny or dead with Litvinenko by telling Putin something he didn’t want to hear?

Nearly three months down the line, it looks as though the voices of dissent in Russia are getting slightly louder. A few weeks ago, the captain of the Ukrainian forces still holding the Azovstal steel plant in Mauripol for Ukraine and defending the personnel there, posted on social media that he didn’t know how much longer they could hold out. But hold out they did. They may have lain down their arms and are now being shipped out, battered, bruised, bleeding and yes, some of them dead, but they did what they set out to do.

Since the invasion began on February 24th, Russian state TV has been feeding Russian citizens the line that Russia is under attack from Nazis in the West who wish to destroy Russia. Watch this video from Russian news featuring military analyst & retired colonel Mikhail Khodarenok telling news anchor Olga Skabeyeva the truth. Translated by the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg, it’s well worth taking the time. Even as Skabeyeva spouts the usual line, Khodarenok keeps going, calmly telling it like it is.
UPDATE: I seem to have fallen foul of the Russian State TV copyright bots, so if you want to see what I’m on about, better catch it via Steve Rosenberg’s Twitter feed here:

Photograph: Dmytro Kozatsky/Azov Special Forces Regiment

Azovstal steel works, taken by one of the special forces and shared on Twitter. Real lumpy throat time

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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