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This morning, Russian President for life Vladimir Putin declared success in the battle to take the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. He didn’t define what that meant. This is the 21st century and Putin’s decision to start a war in Ukraine on Feb. 23 has changed the face of the European Union, united the NATO alliance (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and added entire new chapters to barbaric behavior in war crimes and what experts are now saying could constitute genocide.

Noting the heroic and effective war effort by the Ukrainian military, and the Ukrainian people, this morning U.S. President Joe Biden announced another $800 million in military weapons and ammunition for Ukraine.

As he declared “success”, in what he probably perceives as a magnanimous gesture, Putin announced that his troops wouldn’t storm the massive Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol where the remaining Ukrainian defenders of the city, along with a few thousand civilians have entrenched in underground corridors. Instead, he says he’ll order Russian troops to surround and barricade the place; apparently to starve them out.

Yesterday for a brief time a humanitarian corridor held up, allowing civilians a way out of the destroyed city in Ukraine’s industrial heartland. But here’s the thing; the civilians aren’t being allowed out to Ukraine; they are being allowed out to Russian-held territory. To what destination isn’t known; but unconfirmed reports say they are being shuttled to what amounts to the equivalent of Stalin-era gulags ( concentration camps).

By believing his own delusions, that Europe and NATO would splinter, and that the West wouldn’t stand up to his bullying, Putin has done what he didn’t intend. He has strengthened the NATO alliance of 30 nations united against authoritarian aggression and unified by the desire to keep peace in Europe. Two steadfastly neutral countries,  Finland and Sweden, who had remained neutral even in World War II and afterwards, are both considering joining NATO. In fact, Finland’s Parliament is in debate today about joining NATO.

“Russia jeopardizes the stability of all of Europe,” said Finland’s Ambassador to the U.S. Mikko Hautala bluntly, speaking this morning with NBC International Correspondent Andrea Mitchell. He noted that Finland joined the European Union in 1995, and that Finland has been integrating with NATO For the past 30 years. “There is a high integration already, so this should be no surprise to the Russians. For us, if we decide to join, this is the last step on the road we have been on.”

Asked if he was surprised about the documented reports of hundreds of civilian atrocities, torture, rape and murder by Russian troops of Ukrainian civilians, Hautala was equally blunt. “NO. I am not surprised by the brutality, the atrocities.  There are not actually not many surprises about this.”

As Ark Valley Voice noted in our Dec. 2021 article about Putin’s intentions, it’s even worse than we thought. We noted that at any given time, Russia is doing one of three things:

  • Recreating the empire
  • Uniting the Slavic peoples
  • Extending the Russian Orthodox Church.

As it turns out, he appears to be doing all three things at once. He’s demonstrating a grand delusion about recreating the Soviet empire; something he’s been bitter about since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This past weekend, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church blessed Putin’s war effort and all its barbaric actions; presenting a bit of a public relations problem for Christian leadership. Then today Russia tested a nuclear ballistic missile with the name “Satan 2”, as an in-your-face message to the West.

Putin announced the “special military operation” as an operation to unite the Russian separatists in Ukraine with Mother Russia. But he has come face to face with the fact that the Ukrainians didn’t welcome him with open arms and most of them (even those who speak Russian) don’t want to be dominated by Russia. Since his end game is complete domination, this is a problem.

Asked about Putin’s goal, the Finnish Ambassador to the U.S. answered directly. “I don’t think Putin is going to give up. This won’t be the end of the war. Russian leadership is committed to [what they call] ‘solve the Ukrainian issue’, so there is no short-term solution. It will be really difficult to remove the core reason for this: the Russian idea that they absolutely need to control Ukraine.”

That sounds a bit like Hitler’s ‘Jewish solution’ doesn’t it?

Asked about Ukraine’s chances, Hautala expressed confidence in Ukraine, just as the U.S. has. “Ukraine can survive as an independent country as long as they can defend themselves.”

Featured image: The Azovstal Steel Mill in Mariupol, where the last holdout of Ukrainian troops, and a few thousand Ukrainian civilians are holding out. Photo by