Putin’s advisers may be afraid to deliver bad news, U.S. intelligence says.
The Washington Post

“Ah, General Shoigu. Finally. I’ve been asking for you all morning.”

“Abject apologies, Mr. President. Traffic on the Ring Road is bumper to bumper. Must be another victory rally somewhere.”

“Speaking of traffic, what’s this I hear about a 40-mile-long convoy of our trucks not moving?”

“Well, you see … Ukrainians hysterical with joy at being re-united with Great Russia kept jumping in front of the trucks to insert flowers in the grills. Naturally we did not want to run them over. But the last report has our convoy moving with such celerity that American spy satellites cannot keep pace with them.”

“Good. And Kiev has been taken?”

“It was like going through butter with a hot knife.”

“How many casualties on our side?”

“Five. One broken leg, two twisted ankles, an allergic reaction to the welcome flowers, and a minor burn suffered by a cook while serving borscht.”

“What’s this Medvedev mentioned about generals getting killed?”

“What? With respect to Deputy Minister Medvedev, I think I would have heard of such a ridiculous thing. We have the finest generals in any army. And they lead from the rear. As all good leaders do. This nonsense about eight generals getting killed is just propaganda.”


Great. Great generals.”

“You should speak more clearly, Sergei Kuzhugetovich. Now, where are we holding Zelensky?”

“Zelensky. Yes. Zelensky is in a most secure location, to be sure, Vladimir Vladimirovich. Zelensky is not going anywhere. This is for certain. Yes.”

“I want him brought here. He will shine my boots in front of the television cameras.”

“A sublime photo opportunity. Brilliant.”

“When can you have him here?”

“Ah. Well, it’s a question, really, of … the quarantine.”

“We have the finest generals in any army. And they lead from the rear. As all good leaders do.”

“What do you mean?”

“He tested positive for the coronavirus. So, of course you cannot take the risk of being in proximity with him. Even at the 50-foot-long table where you told Macron what he could do with a baguette. You were amazing.”

“Can’t you wrap Zelensky in plastic or something?”

“An interesting suggestion. Indeed, brilliant. I will consult with the directorate of … the one in charge of such things.”

“See to it. Now, explain to me, why are the Ukrainian negotiators still alive? Were my instructions to have their underwear and Evian-water bottles laced with Novichok in some way ambiguous?”

“Never! But what makes you think these wretched scum persons are still alive?”

“They are on television, Sergei.”

“Ah. Yes, I understand. That was old television footage. The swine keep re-running it. Foreign Minister Lavrov assures me that every member of the Ukraine delegation is now—to use our expression—pushing up tulips. I am informed that their deaths were excruciating.”

“Very good. What about this report that one of our ships in Mariupol was attacked?”

“Bah. More disinformation. There was a bonfire on the quay at Mariupol. Big … flames.”

“A bonfire?”

“To celebrate the fall of Mariupol. You know how our navy lads love a good warm bonfire.”

“So, it is all going according to plan? The plan you presented to me guaranteeing Ukraine would be completely de-Nazified by close of business on day five. I point out that today is day—what?—30-something?”

“Well, there—you see? We are weeks ahead of schedule!”

“I … ”

“There is, yes, some mopping up to do. And candidly I will admit to you that we did not destroy all the maternity hospitals on the target list. But this we will fix. Truly, I am at a loss for words to describe how well it has gone. You will go down in history for this.”

“Fine. But this is no time for resting on laurels, Sergei. When do I get the plans for the invasion of Poland?”

“Ah. Yes. Those. I had hoped to have them for you today. But there was a … minor problem.”

“What problem?”

“With the copier machine. A paper jam. But it is being fixed even as we speak. It is all good, Vladimir Vladimirovich. Everything is, yes, all good.”

Christopher Buckley is the author of numerous books. His latest, Make Russia Great Again, is out now