The Man Who Would Be Stalin

Vladimir Putin has delusions of being Joseph Stalin. (Not Adolf Hitler; that’s wrong on several levels.)

Addressing the Duma Thursday, he blamed all Russia’s problems on the West. “Even if nothing were happening in Ukraine, …” But lots of things are happening in Ukraine, most of them instigated by him. (He’s correct on one point: last year’s coup in Ukraine was illegal. But then, all coups are illegal … until they win.)

His big problem is that he’s messed up the Russian economy. Of course, he must find scapegoats. On top of Western sanctions, the ruble has lost 40% of its value and the price of oil has declined 40%. Since his budget depends on energy exports, this is a triple hit.

A few people remember Stalin as our ally against Hitler in WW2, but he was also a brutal dictator in his own right: murdered nine to thirty million people inside the Soviet Union and maybe as many outside. He was also the one who abandoned Communism to make the Soviet Union into a Russian empire. That’s why Putin likes him.

“Death of one man is a tragedy, death of a million is a statistic,” is attributed to Stalin. A former KGB apparatchik, Putin understands.