Batman against Joker: Putin is losing this war.
Putin is losing this war, not because he is weak, but because his PR is outdated, old-fashioned, because he's over-confident, and is being driven by anger.
Putin is bombing a Ukrainian TV building, as if we were in the 1970s, and Zelensky is broadcasting to the whole world via Twitter from the palm of his hand. Thus the bombing of the media looks very bad but does not harm the broadcasting capacity of the Ukrainians. Putin does not understand that in his outdated methods he harms himself and glorifies the President of Ukraine even more.
The war is on Twitter and Telegram, not on the ground.
Theoretically, Putin may have justifiable reasons to fight for the demilitarizion of Ukraine, as legitimate self defense. As practically no one knows what those reasons are, thanks to effective Zelensky’s social media campaign, everyone has good reason to be against what Russia is doing in Ukraine.
Putin has lost the heart and minds of his supporters at home and abroad. He has also made President Zelensky, the person who started this war by welcoming NATO to Russia’s borders, and who used to be such an unpopular Ukraine President, into his country's darling and the world’s hero.
In contrast, the President of Ukraine has made Twitter and his iPhone the most powerful weapon in his war against Putin.
No one now even remembers that he - and not Putin - set this war in motion, by welcoming NATO’s nuclear weapons on Russia's borders.
The West must defend Ukraine. That was the commitment given to Ukraine in exchange for its dismantling of its nuclear weapons. The West must honour this commitment also because it’s a good demonstration to convince Iran to give up its nuclear programme with guarantee that no one will attack them.
But the West must also not implicitly declare war on Russia by placing weapons on its border with Ukraine, because there is no reason for Russia to agree to this and not take military action to eliminate this real threat. The West should not do this because the price for this unnecessary provocation of the West against Russia is being paid by Ukraine. When two elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers.
In round-the-clock talks with world leaders, Zelensky managed to persuade them with surprising speed to impose severe sanctions on Russia, drastic measures that a week ago were unimaginable. Sanctions that punish not only Russia and millions of innocent Russian citizens, but also the citizens of Germany,and the rest of the EU (who will end up paying much more for their food and energy).
In Europe, one of the leaders said about Zelensky: "We have great reverence for him. He is changing Europe". And he is right. Zelensky is winning the war by using weapons that Putin - and the EU leaders - do not understand: social media.
In a flood of phone calls and tweets from besieged Kiev, President Zelensky has managed to persuade the West to impose previously unimaginable sanctions on Russia, against their own citizens interests, with the decision-making also driven by the European publics' reaction to the heroism of his people.
Putin's clumsy efforts have managed to unite all Ukrainians against the Russians, their natural brothers. And to unite the EU against Russia, its strategic trade partner.
Putin is armed with an old-fashioned, outdated propaganda weapons let over from the Cold War. His dysfunctional PR is working against him and not against whoever he is targeting. And this is making him angry, and his anger is pushing him to make tactical and strategic mistakes.
In the age of social media, PR is the weapon that will win or lose a war.
This is the weapon the President of Ukraine has mastered and is deploying to great effect on the world stage. It is also a language and delivery system that Putin clearly does not understand at all. Putin is stuck using old-fashioned Iron Curtain tactics, as if playing only to a private audience of Siloviki sycophants in his Kremlin Court. Unlike his Ukrainian counterpart, he doesn't realise they're both on the world stage, under the harsh glare of the spotlight. The more Putin tries to bully Zelensky, the more popular Zelensky becomes.
Russia’s old-fashioned PR isn’t winning the hearts of his Ukrainian opponents: it's losing the hearts of his international supporters, and creating dangerous opposition at home.
Let's put this in a historical context. The anti-government rebels in Hong Kong for a whole year carried out violent demonstrations and acts of terrorism, much more serious than what the pro-Trump demonstrators in Capitol Hill did in just one day. And that was enough for the Democrats to revoke many of the democratic and civil rights of 84 million Americans. But no one remembers that inconvenient fact. Everyone thinks that the Democrats are really in favor of democracy, only because those who call themselves Democrats have made ingenious use of the public relations power of social networks. In the Hong Kong anti-government saga, China made the same mistakes that Putin is making today: outdated public relations tactics that worked against the China and HK governments, and not against those at whom they were directed. So everyone is still sure that China is the one that abolished democracy in Hong Kong, while in practice Britain had never allowed Hong Kong to be a democracy, so there was nothing to abolish at all.
When Putin fires a missile at a Ukrainian residential building the world is outraged. And rightly so.
When the United States shells hospitals, schools and kills thousands of children in Iraq, everyone applauds, mindlessly accepting the reporting of this as "collateral damage" and the West arresting the journalist who exposed this war crimes in what we wrongly believed was a freedom of press.
When the United States exterminates millions of innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, everyone calls it a victory for the free world and not a crime against humanity. This is the power of public relations as a weapon.
PR was a weapon that was invented by the Soviet Union. It has since been re-invented by the Silicon Valley with new features. It seem that Putin has not learned how to use it, and is holding the loaded rifle with the barrel aimed at his head.
And by Putin pushed to the wall, the world is less safe place.