Fear of Death and the War for Ukraine

Putin’s invasion may well be driven by dread of his own mortality

Brandy L Schillace
GEN

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Photo: Lizgrin F / Unsplash

Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Two days later, blasts could be heard in Kyiv, the capital city. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed his people: “This night they will begin to storm. We all have to know what awaits us, and we have to withstand. The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.” The reports have come in daily ever since; Kyiv has not (yet) fallen, but reports suggest up to 2,000 civilians have already been killed along with soldiers on both sides — and there is every indication that this land war will be devastating and brutal. To what end? Why is it happening at all?

We have the words of Putin, himself, of course; he gave a predawn address on the 24th claiming Russia could not feel “safe, develop and exist” because of the constant “threat” from Ukraine. The claim is patently false, but he followed it up with even stranger ones, claiming his forces were coming to “de-Nazify” the country (despite the fact that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is Jewish and a descendant of WWII concentration camp survivors). Putin’s reasoning has been condemned by all but his firmest allies and the sycophants with which he surrounds himself in the Moscow bubble. His real motivation, is, as it has always been, the…

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Brandy L Schillace
GEN

(skil-AH-chay) Author in #history, #science, & #medicine. Bylines: SciAm, Globe&Mail, WIRED, WSJ. EIC Medical Humanities. Host of Peculiar Book Club. she/her