One of the most famous movies in history Dr. Strangelove by Stanley Kubrick has a slightly less known subtitle – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. What was a dark comedy since the end of the 1960s, when the movie was made, is now turning into reality, which proves Kubrick’s artistic genius, and confirms his movie as a masterpiece.
Russian President Putin finally “outed” himself as wartime commander-in-chief, issuing a mobilization order on Wednesday and talking about the use of nuclear weapons as a realistic option. It took him a full seven months to stop pretending that he was just an “ordinary” civilian head of state, conducting some kind of limited, special military operation, and to admit that he was, in fact, waging a war, in which he was the supreme commander of the invading force.
Putin’s decision to mobilize is a matter that concerns Russia. People who allowed a murderous machine with conquest goals to develop before their eyes and with their active participation, or passive observation, will now face the consequences of their choice. Faced with a possible wave of Russian fugitives from mobilization, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas showed no emotion. She told Russian military conscripts that her country would not give them refuge and that instead of seeking it, they should undertake anti-war activities in their own country.
What concerns us far more than Putin’s desperate mobilization is his threat to use nuclear weapons. This concerns anyone living outside of Russia, because it is the first time since the nuclear bomb was created that someone with the power to use it has openly threatened to do so.
And that’s where we come to the subtitle of the movie Dr. Strangelove – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The state in which the Russian military command is, and especially its commander, points to the fact that the rational conduct of war is losing battle under the rush of destructive instinct, and perhaps even self-destruction. There are similarities with Kubrick’s hero, the deranged General Ripper, who orders bomber attack and a nuclear attack on the USSR without Washington’s approval.
We don’t know who exactly Putin was threatening when he said he would use “all means” if forced. Maybe Ukraine, but his propagandists, who have been advocating nuclear weapons for months, do not want to drop them on Ukraine. They say, it’s our land, we have to live there, and we don’t need destruction and radiation in the space that is ours. But they have already razed Europe to the ground, especially Britain, as well as the American east coast countless times.
In one of the latest nuclear attack simulations to run regularly on state television, presenter Olga Skabeyeva regrets that a nuclear bomb was not dropped on London at the time of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, as “all the important people” had gathered. She was supported by Andrey Gurulyov, a member of the Duma, who would like to wait with the nuclear bombardment of Ukraine or Germany, “when Britain is the root of the evil.”
Militant charlatans from Russian state TV could have stayed that way until the end of the invasion of Ukraine, but their president made them serious forecasters and turned their apocalyptic wishes into reality. By saying that he was “not bluffing”, Putin became the first leader in history to threaten the world with a nuclear cataclysm. We are not taking into account Kim Jong-un and his father, because their nuclear threats are baseless. But Russian and Korean leaders are on the same level today. With the difference that Putin holds a start button to the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, of about 6,000 nuclear warheads. Putin and Kim are an equal anomaly in today’s world, one in words only, and the other is capable and equipped to implement the threat. By the desperate moves he is making because of the defeat he suffered in Ukraine, he also shows that he has the will to start Armageddon.
A nuclear bomb is the only man-made object whose purpose is never to be used. All the Soviet and Russian leaders knew this well, even Khrushchev, as the actor of the biggest nuclear crisis to date, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1961. Maybe Putin once knew it, but since a few days ago we can no longer be sure of that. Ever since he ordered mobilization and threatened with nukes, while razing the West as an enemy to the ground, Putin has stepped out of the circle of reasonable and civilized owners of nuclear arsenal and turned into a nuclear outlaw.
Serbia cannot influence his decisions, no one in the world can, not even many in the Kremlin. But Serbia can adapt to new circumstances and make responsible decisions that will protect it and directly affect its future. Putin’s open nuclear threat cannot be ignored and relations with Russia and with Putin personally cannot be conducted as before. It is impossible to talk about gas, about Kosovo, about the export of apples and seed corn with people who are preparing to attack with nuclear bombs. The fact that they will not drop a nuclear bomb on Serbia cannot be a justification for ignoring nuclear threat to anyone else in the world. Cooperation with Putin and his Russia today is cooperation with the most dangerous factor that threatens world peace, and it has all the potential to make that threat a reality. With its decision, Russia once again drew a line between nations that want peace and those that threaten others with doomsday. If Russia made that decision in a state of delirium, we can only feel remorse and look for a way to protect ourselves from it, not participate in it.