Opinion: How would Putin react to potential loss?

Alexandr Demyanchuk, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP / Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, last week.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a tough, smart, caring leader, and he just got the battlefield best of Vladimir Putin, a do-or-die, obsessed, evil leader. The clever, tricky, intelligence-guided triumph was obviously encouraging and inspiriting for Zelenskyy's fellow Ukrainians who have suffered so much.

After all, it was said by many, the Ukrainian military had no chance at all against Putin's Russian military with its advantages galore, but glory, glory hallelujah for this brave Russian neighbor supported by weapons and other means by the United States and Europe.

The first question, to be sure, is whether Ukraine can take this victory and push it to so many other victories that the venomous Russian intruders are clearly done for, and the second question is whether they will retreat even if that happens. Will they bow their heads, go home and focus on internal affairs with the government helping its own who themselves aren't in the best of shape right now?

No. Putin will not allow that.

Given what we know about the man, there is no way he would out-and-out surrender and then forget his world-dominating causes. He would first have to convert to being a second Queen Elizabeth in terms of virtue and wisdom except that he might also be removed from power or assassinated if his multitudinous safeguards don't work against those fearful of this venture. To be sure, Putin is popular with the Russian people and does have love in him. He loves Russia. It seems that, in his inner self, he is Russia, and more than that, he is the Soviet Union, the multinational, totalitarian entity that vied with the United States to be the world's superpower and lost and went away. It was the gravest geopolitical tragedy of all times, according to Putin, who didn't exactly like the recently deceased, worthy Mikhail Gorbachev.

He was the last leader of the Soviet Union and someone who ended a war with Afghanistan after 10 years instead of 20. He wisely worked with President Ronald Reagan to end the Cold War and lessen nuclear threats. His dedication to communism shifted to something like democratic socialism, and when Soviet states decided to go their own way, he did not like it but did not intervene militarily.

To Putin, a former spy for the Kremlin and downright murderous in the cause of self and Russia, all of this was disaster, the end of the world. He lost his attachment to ineffective communism, more nearly favoring something like politically manipulated gangster capitalism, but he has actively fought against much of the good internationally in order to bring about his revival dream. Russia itself is decaying but still has mountains of nuclear weaponry, enough to just maybe bring about a literal, not figurative, end of the world as we know it.

A question now is whether Putin might use nuclear weaponry to win the Ukrainian war and, if he does, what we would do, such as risk a nuclear war with a nuclear reply or just castigate Russia and try to somehow reduce the risk otherwise? The second solution seems to me more likely, but what should be understood -- even if Putin wins without nukes -- is that the conquest will be step one in getting other countries in a renewed Soviet Union. Those who think our financial support of Ukraine is wasted money should consider the conceivable cost of its defeat.

Putin, in the meantime, is exchanging hugs with Xi Jinping, president of China, ever more dangerous to the United States and the world, and someone who might back him up and sell him weaponry, for starters. These two together are an awful threat. President Richard Nixon broke up such an alliance in the 1970s through communications and a trade deal with China, but the good does not always hang in there.

Tribune Content Agency