Editorial: Putin's Teenage Rampage

Take note – story published 9 years and 1 month ago

Are we absolutely certain that Vladimir Putin is 62 years old? I know the fact that he has been running the Russian Federation in his own inimitable style for the last 15 years suggests he might indeed be a man of fairly mature years, but I have come to suspect the truth may be something else: Vladimir Putin is in fact only fifteen years old.

Disregard the slight matter of chronological impossibility and the evidence for Putin being a teenager is quite compelling: the Narcissistic obsession with his physical appearance, the mood swings, the skin problems, the unhealthy interest in guns, the idolising of leather-clad bikers and macho men in general, the fact he likes to remind you that he knows martial arts, the constant effort to prove that he definitely is not gay.

But to me the strongest evidence of all that Putin is going through that particularly difficult stage of adolescence is his repeated threat to use nuclear weapons.

We've all been there. Someone laughs at your hairstyle on the bus: you threaten to nuke them. A girl refuses to go on a date: you deploy Iskander Missiles in her garden. Some barman won't accept your phoney ID at a roadhouse: you scramble a few nuclear-enabled Bear bombers to buzz the car park until he serves you a small can of Heineken with a Jagermeister chaser.

It's understandable. It makes you feel better, makes you feel like you're a real man and not a spotty, skinny, inadequate sort of President.

Of course it all boils down to sex. That most tantalising and terrifying of prospects is not easy to deal with when you are a teenager. Despite the stigma attached to it, threatening to use nuclear weapons is perfectly natural – provided it does not become an obsession. Contrary to the old wives' tales, it does not make your palms hairy or make you lose your eyesight. Probably it doesn't stunt your growth either. I'm short too, just like Putin, and these days I hardly ever threaten to drop the Big One.

I'm told that on the internet these days it's easy to watch nuclear weapons doing all sorts of things: launching, exploding, parading through Red Square. It's even possible to see two or three nuclear weapons being put through their paces at the same time in all manner of imaginative configurations.

When I was a teenager we could only dream of such depravity. Someone once posted a picture of a single Polaris missile on the school noticeboard and that caused quite a stir. The headmaster was furious. To us, 200 kilotonnes seemed incredibly exciting. These days, that sort of nuclear yield wouldn't even raise an eyebrow.

The old-school Soviet leaders rarely threatened to nuke anyone. The threat was implicit. After all they were married men. We knew they had lots of warheads and they didn't go on about it except during the Cuba crisis which was essentially a turf war between two teenagers in rival gangs: Kruschev (Sharks) and Kennedy (Jets).

So in a few years, Putin will probably not need to lock himself in his room four or five times a week, loosen his belt and threaten the Baltic states with nuclear annihilation.

He'll grow up, he'll get laid and he'll come to realize that casually suggesting the agonising deaths of millions of men, women and children – including millions of your own citizens – doesn't make you a tough guy.

It makes you a jerk-off.

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