The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine that Putin has a swimming pool of sharks at his dacha.

What constitutes a classic Bond baddie? Is it possessing weapons of mass destruction and a manic worldview? Yes, Vladimir Putin hasn’t threatened to blow up the Moon – yet – however, like a Bond villain, he has failed at his ultimate objective. He had assumed that the war in Ukraine would be an easy, quick task, like the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. But, for a variety of reasons, Putin has utterly failed at his objectives. Moreover, due to Ukrainian tenacity and military and economic aid from the United States and Europe, an outright victory seems unlikely for either side.

The stark competition between the United States and Russia has been evident since the end of the Second World War. For many centuries, Russia has been one of the strongest empires in the world. However, in the mid-1940s, America emerged as the leading global superpower. The Cold War essentially began with the failure of these two world superpowers to settle contrasting political agendas as they worked towards a similar military goal. Throughout the Cold War, Russia and the U.S. engaged in proxy wars and indirect competition in education and the arms race to decide who would become the ultimate global force.

When America “won” the Cold War, the Soviet Union could not let its defeat go. Even though Russia amassed the most amount of territory, it did not prove to have enough influence to win this battle for supremacy. To this day, Russian hostilities, and its inability to admit defeat cause numerous international disputes and a continuation of the Cold War rivalry. One prominent example of this is the war in Ukraine. Many analysts view this war as another geopolitical discord between Russia and the U.S. over global influence.

The war began with Vladimir Putin stating that he wants to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine. He saw the threat of Ukraine joining NATO. He constantly reminded the world of NATO’s vow to not expand eastward and threatened to take corresponding actions if their assurances were not abided by. Therefore, the war commenced both as a clash between Ukraine and Russia, but also as a renewed war for power. Putin executed his threats.

When considering Putin’s attributes, it is only logical to compare him to the epitome of a Bond villain. He has an evil plan: to continue expanding – gaining territory – and be the most powerful country once again. He has the arms: his stockpile of almost six thousand nuclear warheads and other ballistic missiles, as well as cohorts and henchmen that listen to his every command. Most importantly, he has the “fear factor” that he employs throughout Russia to keep the masses in check. Through circulating propaganda, censoring the news, and using violence, Putin assembled his citizens into a “machine” that he uses to fuel his intentions for domination. He employs an authoritative force through “brainwashing.” He uses jail sentences to restrict “fake news” about the Russian military and keep his society in line.

Lastly, like a Bond villain, Putin has not been able to fulfill his plans. Russia’s internal problems – the corruption of bureaucrats, and state-run propaganda – keep Putin from being able to realize his plans. His security services give him assessments that mirror his own perspective – he is falsely confident. As he continues to shift the focus from his politics, Putin’s myopia is what leads to gruesome wars. Ultimately, like every Bond baddie, Putin will see his demise, and it will not be pretty.

Emma Crasnitchi is a junior at Langley High School. She is interested in Economics, International Development, and Foreign Affairs.