One of the main topics on June 6-10 in the Western media, apart from the possibility of Ukraine's accession to the EU, was Vladimir Putin's imperial dream of grading up to Tsar Peter the Great.
However, instead of opening a window to Europe, the new tsar seems to be hammering it in with coffin nails.
In addition, the West is analyzing whether Russia can use nuclear weapons to win the war, and NATO is flexing its muscles by conducting drills just steps from the Kremlin.
Putin's wet dreams of Peter the Great
Vladimir Putin went on air this week justifying his war of aggression in Ukraine by comparing himself to the 18th-century Russian Tsar Peter the Great. He recalled that Peter the Great had waged the great northern war for 21 years, "returning" his historical lands in Sweden.
What is interesting here is that the Kremlin bloodthirsty dictator stopped talking about the imminent end of the war and acknowledged his imperial ambitions.
"After months of denials that Russia is driven by imperial ambitions in Ukraine, Putin appeared to embrace that mission, comparing Peter’s campaign with Russia’s current military actions," The Guardian writes.
Western analysts see the dictator's remarks as another evidence that all his complaints about NATO expansion were simply a facade for a traditional war of conquest.
"De-imperialization" of Russia instead of Putin's reconciliation
The publication also quotes Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, who stressed that it is time to stop efforts to "save Putin’s face" through, for example, Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic steps:
"We should not talk about Russia ‘saving face’, but about its immediate de-imperialisation."
Meanwhile, Carl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden, called Putin’s desire to "take back lands" a recipe for years of wars.
Although the new-sprung "czar" denies that Russia is seeking to occupy new lands in Ukraine, this is not true: according to Meduza, the Kremlin plans to combine all the occupied territories into a new federal district, and annex it to Russia in the fall.
At the same time, the Kremlin lies about the fact that the captured regions will be able to determine their own fate by planning fake referendums there at gunpoint and under the yoke of repression.
Putin's idols: From Alexander III to Stalin
The West is increasingly convinced that all Putin’s statements about the need to "denazify" Ukraine are just a far-fetched pretext, while he himself praises the efforts of dictator Joseph Stalin in creating a "tightly centralized and absolutely unitary state" at the cost of the lives of tens of millions of people.
Among Putin's other idols, The Guardian recalls Tsar Alexander III, who put an end to the constitution-making process in Russia, and pre-revolutionary Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin, who deported thousands of Ukrainians to the East and North of the Russian Empire by his reforms.
Moreover, even Russian experts admit that Putin is confused about history.
"Peter the Great has opened a window to Europe, Putin is hammering it up with rotten planks from the time of Ivan the Terrible," writes Andrei Kolesnikov, a Russian political analyst.
Ukrainian Internet users troll the words of the bloodthirsty dictator as well.
Trolling Russia: "Smolensk is Lithuania"
Lithuania, meanwhile, reacted to the proposal of a Russian State Duma deputy to withdraw recognition of their independence, proposing to cancel the Treaty of Polyanovka of 1634 and return all territories occupied by Moscow.
MP Matas Maldeikis wrote about this on Twitter.
"If Russia revokes her 1991 recognition of Lithuania's independence, Lithuania will revoke the 1634 Treaty of Polyanovka and demand that Putin submits to the authority of Władysław IV and returns all occupied territories to the Grand Duchy. Smolensk is Lithuania!" he joked.
He also pinned a January 24 tweet on his page demanding that Russian troops be urgently withdrawn from the "historical sphere of influence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania," including Belarus and Ukraine.
"Russia’s westward expansion since the annexation of Novgorod in 1478 is an outrageous provocation," Maldeikis added, tagging the Russian Foreign Ministry.
In Kyiv, Internet users joined a flash mob, spreading on social networks a fake "order" from the mayor of the capital, Vitali Klitschko, to cancel the founding of Moscow.
Why nuclear weapons won't help Russia win
Western historians have begun to criticize the thesis that Russia will definitely win the war with Ukraine because of being a nuclear state.
In particular, Timothy Snyder, Levin Professor of History at Yale, quoted by Sky News, called this point of view "dangerous nonsense."
As an example, he cites the wars of defeated nuclear states, such as the U.S. campaign against North Vietnam and the conflict between the USSR and Afghanistan.
"The Cold War was a period of decolonisation, in which colonial powers lost decisive wars to anti-colonial movements or states. Russia acts today as a colonial power," he explains.
Snyder stresses that in recent decades, it has more often than not been the smaller state that has defeated the larger one on the battlefield, so from a historical point of view, a Ukrainian victory over Russia would not be surprising.
He also indirectly called for more support for Kyiv:
"If Ukraine loses this war, it might well be because others used bad history to give themselves bad reasons to waste time during the weeks that will define the decades to come."
NATO is practicing to fight off Russia
NATO is flexing its muscles with vast military drills almost on Russia’s doorstep, The Times reports.
Thousands of troops are taking part in the largest ever exercise to test their air defense and missile defense systems amid fears that the war could split beyond Ukraine.
About 3,000 Nato troops are taking part in Ramstein Legacy, which involves 17 allied nations exercising in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with aircraft, missile defense systems and electronic warfare systems.
General Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of Allied Air Command, believes that large-scale training exercises like this are now more important to Nato than ever.
Threat to Eastern Europe
Meanwhile, the defense ministers of major NATO countries have gathered in Reykjavik for talks on hostilities. According to Thordis Gylfadottir, Iceland’s foreign minister, the bloc should prepare for the worst-case scenario in everything where Russia was concerned.
"The threat of a direct military aggression against a Nato country can no longer be excluded," she stressed.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace warns that many countries should be very careful about Putin's intentions not to consider Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia independent countries.
"Whether he would be silly or foolish enough to do that in an overt manner with a cruise missile remains to be seen but he would be dealing then with Nato," Wallace assured.
Wojciech Skurkiewicz, Poland’s deputy defense minister, noted that Warsaw realizes the threats and the dangers that are lurking not only in connection with the Russian aggression in Ukraine but also the hybrid activities in Belarus.
For his part, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said NATO wanted to deliver a strong message to Russia that its territory would be "defended starting from the first meter, and will not be lost".
Executions and filtration camps: Reich from Putin
Ben Wallace compared Russia's actions to Nazi Germany, speaking of mass executions and filtration camps. At the same time, according to him, Putin needs 800,000 soldiers to occupy the territory of Ukraine, but he does not have such an army, and therefore resorts to repression:
"Occupying people who don’t want to be occupied is not an easy thing to do. The Nazis learnt that all over Europe."
Meanwhile, The Times adds, Russia has started fitting surface-to-air missiles on the flight decks of its warships in the Black Sea to protect them against new anti-ship weapons provided by Denmark.
In particu;ar, the improvised, usually land-based Tor missile system seen strapped to the deck of at least one Russian navy corvette.
Ports of Ukraine: Russian blackmail and stolen grain
The West is also worried about the possibility of unblocking grain exports from Ukraine. Kyiv stated that Russia had stolen about 600,000 tons of grain and is trying to sell it abroad, the BBC reports. Russia, of course, denies it.
Currently, Ukraine cannot export its grain by sea due to the blocking of the Black Sea ports by the Russian fleet.
The Kremlin demands Kyiv to de-mine the waters of the coast so that the "green corridors" for the export of grain to become operational. Ukraine, for its part, believes that this will lead to a direct attack by the Russians on Odesa and other port cities.
The United States, meanwhile, confirms that Russia is trying to sell stolen Ukrainian wheat to African countries, according to the New York Times.
In mid-May, the Americans sent an alert to 14 countries, mostly in Africa, that the grain that Russia was trying to sell them had been stolen.
Russia, for its part, blames Western sanctions for the food crisis, but the West responds by saying that the Kremlin has "weaponized" food supplies.
Ukraine, meanwhile, initiates criminal cases against those who steal and sell grain.
Food crisis and famine in Africa
Grain export from Ukraine will be limited to a maximum of 20 million tons in 2023, because it will be delivered by road, river, and rail transport, said Ukraine Grain Association chief Mykola Gorbachov. This is half of 2021, when Kyiv exported 44.7 million tons.
The BBC notes that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a sharp rise in prices for grain, vegetable oil, fuel, and fertilizers around the world, since Russia and Ukraine jointly account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies.
Kyiv’s share is about 10%. Moreover, according to the UN, in 2019, Ukraine accounted for 16% of global supplies of corn and 42% of sunflower oil.
The drought in the Horn of Africa is already devastating, says Petroc Wilton of the World Food Programme in Somalia.
"Four consecutive failed rainy seasons. Fifteen million hungry people, rising to 20 by year's end," he said.
Instead of an afterword. As we can see, the West is increasingly realizing how far-fetched any Russian motives for attacking Ukraine are, and also how deeply dictator Putin has plunged into fantasies of the rebirth of the Russian empire, drowning not even in the 20th, but in the 18th century.
Meanwhile, NATO is preparing for any moves by the Kremlin to expand its geopolitical conquest ambitions.
The West is also concerned about the global food crisis, which Moscow is actually using as a weapon and means of blackmail to lift sanctions, but, as we can see, the consequences of such ultimatum steps do not play into Putin's hands at all.
Be that as it may, as a result, Ukraine has a chance to unblock the Black Sea by military means, to put an end to the blackmail of Russia, and at the same time, probably, to its fleet. And this is already an opportunity not only to provide Africa with grain, but also to regain the southern territories of Ukraine, where the invaders are spreading terror against the civilian population.