Putin’s Journey From Leningrad to Kyiv
Siege of Leningrad
During the darkest days of World War II, one year after the Battle of Britain, the German army surrounded and laid siege to the city of Leningrad in the USSR. The siege lasted 872 days. The battle resulted in a million killed or missing and another two million wounded on the Soviet site. One of the dead was a one-year-old boy whose brother, born 8 years after the siege was lifted, went on to lead the Russian Federation as it lays siege to the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine and attempts to encircle the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. From Leningrad to Kyiv, Putin’s journey provides some insight into Russian fears of attack, encirclement, and humiliation by foreign powers.
Encirclement and Destruction of the Civilian Population of Leningrad
The Germans were masters of tank corps operations, flanking maneuvers, and taking open territory. Thus they advanced across Poland and into Russia. But, when the German High Command considered what to do with Leningrad they decided not to occupy it as that would make them responsible for feeding the population. Rather, they chose to lay siege, bombard, and starve the population. The goal was not to take the city but to utterly destroy it and its population. The Leningrad residents of that day, like the Ukrainians today, did not give in and eventually broke the siege. Similar battles caused millions of casualties across the USSR including at the Battle of Stalingrad and also Kyiv. Putin grew up hearing stories of the hardships of war and the need to protect the Motherland from foreign powers.
Vladimir Putin, KGB Colonel
Vladimir Putin grew up in Leningrad and studied law at Leningrad State University. He joined the KGB, the Soviet Committee for State Security, as a foreign intelligence operative, served for 16 years and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the fall of the Soviet Union he went into politics in Leningrad in 1991. When he rose to national power after a stint in Boris Yeltsin’s administration he led a steady retreat from democratization and moved toward authoritarianism. During all of his years in government Putin has been adamant that the collapse of the USSR was a disaster of historic proportions and needed to be remedied to the extent possible. When viewed in Putin’s historical context, conquest of Ukraine to bring it back under control of Mother Russia is a logical step in the reconstruction of Soviet Era power and protection of the Motherland.
Will Putin Ever See the Similarity Between Leningrad and Invading Ukraine?
Today Russian Federation forces are in the role of the German Wehrmacht as they encircle and pummel cities like Mariupol, Kharkov, Kyiv and others. The Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who defend these cities are in the role of those who, like Putin’s family, defended their city and homeland against a foreign invader. One would hope that one day Putin would wake up and order his troops home before they follow the German army into defeat and historic infamy. The primary concern is that Putin has so convinced himself of the rightness of his cause that any means to an end will be acceptable. If he does not come to the realization that a practical solution is necessary this could be a long and far more devastating conflict.
Options Trading in the Era of Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine
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