Ignore Putin’s words. His crimes in Ukraine speak louder.

Image without a captionBy the Editorial Board

October 29, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

In a Thursday speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s voice dripped with resentment and grievance against Western liberal democracies. By his telling, Russia is fed up with being pushed around and is threatened by “neoliberals” and their “gay pride parades.” Besides, he said, “Unlike the West, we do not climb into someone else’s yard.” This is galling enough from the man who launched a war without cause against neighboring Ukraine. Far more lethal are the missiles Russia is using to drive Ukraine into a savage winter of blackouts and cold.

Since Oct. 10, Russia has pummeled Ukraine’s electric power system with cruise missiles and Iranian drones. The utility Yasno said it has only about two-thirds of its normal capacity available because of the Russian strikes. The whole nation is being plunged into darkness.

Opinion writers on the war in Ukraine

Post Opinions provides commentary on the war in Ukraine from columnists with expertise in foreign policy, voices on the ground in Ukraine and more.

Columnist David Ignatius covers foreign affairs. His columns have broken news on new developments around the war. He also answers questions from readers. Sign up to follow him.

Iuliia Mendel, a former press secretary for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, writes guest opinions from inside Ukraine. She has written about trauma, Ukraine’s “women warriors” and what it’s like for her fiance to go off to war.

Columnist Fareed Zakaria covers foreign affairs. His columns have reviewed the West’s strategy in Ukraine. Sign up to follow him.

Nataliya Gumenyuk, a Ukrainian author and journalist specializing in foreign affairs, writes guest opinions about the mood inside Ukraine. She has written about Ukrainians stepping up, the war’s tremendous losses and rejoicing after a successful counteroffensive.

Columnist Josh Rogin covers foreign policy and national security. His columns have explored the geopolitical ramifications of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. Sign up to follow him.

Columnist Max Boot covers national security. His columns have encouraged the West to continue its support for Ukraine’s resistance. Sign up to follow him.

Russia’s onslaught is aimed at forcing Ukraine’s citizens to huddle in humiliation. We have little doubt they will emerge still more determined to fight back. Mr. Putin has repeatedly misjudged their fortitude.

At the same time, recent weeks’ missile attacks should be widely denounced as war crimes, along with the civilian massacres and other atrocities Russian troops have carried out in this war. The 1949 Geneva Conventions and subsequent protocols prohibit making a civilian population an object of attack, launching indiscriminate attacks affecting civilians knowing they will cause excessive loss of life and injury, and extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. What Russia is doing is wanton and indiscriminate destruction. Mr. Putin and his many henchmen should be held accountable.

Mr. Putin uses words as weapons. Knowing that his speech at Thursday’s Valdai International Discussion Club would bring headlines in open societies — those that do not censor speech, as Russia does — Mr. Putin reached for the hot buttons. “If the Western elites believe they can have their people and their societies embrace what I believe are strange and trendy ideas like dozens of genders or gay pride parades, so be it,” he sniffed. “Let them do as they please. But they certainly have no right to tell others to follow in their steps.”

Mr. Putin has articulated these themes before. But reviving them just before the U.S. midterm elections is surely no accident; he wants to stir right-wing populism and encourage criticism of U.S. support for Ukraine. He is also no doubt seeking receptive ears in Europe and elsewhere among leaders who have hesitated to back Ukraine.

It is vital to keep all eyes and ears on Mr. Putin’s deeds and not be distracted by his words. He launched a war of aggression to destroy Ukraine as a democracy and as a nation-state. He has sent tens of thousands of people — both Ukrainians and Russians — to their graves for no reason, none at all. He seeks to force those still alive in Ukraine into shivering misery. There can be no compromise with this depravity.

The Post’s View | About the Editorial Board

Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the Editorial Board, based in the Opinions section and separate from the newsroom.

Members of the Editorial Board and areas of focus: Deputy Editorial Page Editor Karen Tumulty; Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus; Associate Editorial Page Editor Jo-Ann Armao (education, D.C. affairs); Jonathan Capehart (national politics); Lee Hockstader (immigration; issues affecting Virginia and Maryland); David E. Hoffman (global public health); Charles Lane (foreign affairs, national security, international economics); Heather Long (economics); Molly Roberts (technology and society); and Stephen Stromberg (elections, the White House, Congress, legal affairs, energy, the environment, health care).

5 comments

  1. Like many closet shirt-lifters, the tiny creep is obsessed with the subject of gays. There is something hideous and disgusting about someone banging on about this whilst prosecuting genocide.
    The final para of this article is moving and memorable:

    “He launched a war of aggression to destroy Ukraine as a democracy and as a nation-state. He has sent tens of thousands of people — both Ukrainians and Russians — to their graves for no reason, none at all. He seeks to force those still alive in Ukraine into shivering misery. There can be no compromise with this depravity.”

    Liked by 3 people

      • According to Bill Browder, he is “an organized crime boss who’s running a country.” His prime motivations are self-preservation, greed and power. Ideology comes a lot further down on his priorities.
        He says that the 120 or so oligarchs approached him in the early days asking “what do we need to do to operate freely?”
        Putler’s reply was “50%.”
        They are all custodians of his thieved money. That list includes the Georgian criminal Bidzina Ivanishvili.
        Then there are his friends the SP and Tambov mafia; all holding cash for him. Finally his family and childhood friends; all are billionaires or multi-millionaires.
        Again according to Bill, putler is far wealthier than any Saudi prince; likely the richest man who ever lived.
        Take all that away and he’s just a dried up little turd on the pavement.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Anyone with a lick of sense realized that it’s wiser to ignore this criminal runt’s words and to focus more on the many crimes that he’s committed. This was a fact even well before this war was started by the rat. Those who had treated and still are treating him like a genuine statesman are of the same low-quality type of worthless politicians who made Adolf Hitler possible. Both were obviously evil, yet their pathetic appeasement was still their top priority.

    Liked by 2 people

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