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Will Putin Go Nuclear?

He is cornered and looking increasingly desperate.
September 29, 2022
Putin Things In Perspective | Not My Party with Tim Miller

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Tim Miller: Putin’s forcing reluctant reserves to fight from the safety of his dacha hideout.

Kyle Broflovski from South Park: What a dick.

Miller: This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark. It’s been a while since we checked in on Volodymyr Zelensky, our modern-day sigma male, and his nation’s fight against the Russian invaders.

Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon on Pennyworth): Things are looking up.

Brian Griffin from Family Guy: Knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood.

Miller: Earlier this month, Ukraine went on offense, taking back thousands of square miles in the eastern part of the country, including the critical city of Izyum and smaller towns throughout the Kharkiv region. It was a devastating strategic loss for Russia because this region connected the parts of the country they controlled together.

Frederick Gideon (Kevin Durand on Locke & Key): We’ll take back what’s ours.

Miller: In a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, Putin announced he was calling up 300,000 reservists who are not too thrilled about their new duties to the motherland.

Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar on The Big Bang Theory): I wonder, why?

Miller: As a result, shit is getting dicey for Puty on the home front.

Radio DJ (Chris Rock in Pootie Tang): Man, Pootie done did it again!

Miller: There have been attacks on military recruiters, protests in the streets, and thousands of men fleeing the country to avoid conscription. Pop stars and social media influencers are taking risks by speaking out.

News presenter (voiceover): Russian pop star Alla Pugacheva took to Instagram and asked to be listed as a foreign agent.

Gleb (Russian influencer): It’s not my choice to born in this country. . . . Yesterday, we had sad news about partial mobilization. . . . I don’t want to get drafted.

Shannon (Danielle Brooks on Master of None): Yeah, I wouldn’t—I wouldn’t do that shit either.

Miller: Mark Hertling, the former commanding officer of the U.S. Army in Europe, was on The Bulwark Podcast recently explaining just how this happened.

Mark Hertling: Truthfully, the Russian army is bad. As Ukraine has gone in one direction in terms of a positive transformation over the last fifteen years, the Russian army has deteriorated and gone in the opposite direction.

Miller: As it turns out, winning a war is about more than manly memes featuring big hunky Russians and rejecting the influence of “woke culture.” This is news to Ted Cruz, who was getting horny over some Russian military propaganda.

Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher in That ’70s Show): Well, that was pretty hot.

Ted Cruz: [groaning with desire]

Miller: And the butch right-wing pundits who constantly whine about our military’s—

Ben Shapiro: —crisis of masculinity—

Miller: —because to them we’re engulfed in some—

Tucker Carlson: —political purge of the military.

Captain of campus security on American Dad: Right. Right, right, right, right, right, right.

Miller: The reality is, after a few high-profile American military bungles, the U.S. engagement in Ukraine has been essentially pitch perfect. The Biden administration has been remarkably successful in balancing their obligations to arm and train the Ukrainians without escalating the war.

James Quall on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!: Great job.

The Wolf (Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction): Well, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet.

Miller: Good point. Remember. . .

Aemon Targaryen (Peter Vaughan on Game of Thrones): Winter is coming.

Miller: The military success will have to continue even as the Ukrainians inevitably tire. And by cutting off the gas pipeline, the Russians are trying to inflict a massive heating crisis on Ukraine and its European allies.

Norah O’Donnell: European leaders are accusing Russia of sabotaging two underwater gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

Miller: Luckily, the Europeans have been preparing for this.

Ursula von der Leyen: We are asking the member states to reduce by 15 percent the gas consumption.

Miller: But there’s a concern that support might be dwindling in other areas. The German chancellor is backing off on sending weapons.

Trent Murray: He says the German armed forces essentially have been stretched thin based on what they have given already.

Peter Griffin on Family Guy: Oh, well that’s disappointing.

Miller: And in Italy, there’s a new nationalist and even light-fashy prime minister. Now, she’s been supportive of the NATO effort to date, but we’ll see if that continues.

Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder on The Vampire Diaries): Concerning.

Miller: And on top of that, Putin is cornered and looking increasingly desperate. So he might be getting an itchy trigger finger on those tactical nukes.

Izzy Buttons (Shaun Parkes in The Mummy Returns): Well, that’s not good.

Miller: But all of these threats come from a place of weakness for the Russians and strength for Ukraine and its allies. And the longer that the Russian army flounders, the greater the chance that Putin gets the ol’ push-off-the-balcony treatment that has seemed to befall a staggering number of prominent Russians lately.

News presenter: Another Russian oligarch has mysteriously died.

Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis on Ted Lasso): So random.

Miller: One thing that’s for sure: That’s a fate that Zelensky—or Dark Brandon—don’t have to worry about. We’ll see you next week for more “Not My Party.”

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.