Dear President Putin,
For the last 22 years you had the chance to inspire the people of Europe and the world. But instead of joining your effort to rebuild Russia, your neighboring countries have fled into the arms of the west. Your response has been to tighten your iron grip on your own people and rain death and destruction on Ukraine.
Mr. Putin, the future is not decided on the battlefield but in the hearts of the people. In an age of global information flow, resorting to violence and intimidation doesn’t work anymore. You need to get your head out of the last century if you want to rebuild anything.
Real leadership in the 21st century is not about power. Real leadership is about providing safety. The safety for people to grow and expand their horizons, to bring up their families with confidence in the future, to know that they are free to choose that future and be united in building a better world for everyone.
This reality can not be denied no matter how much you censor your news media and spit out all those who disagree with you. Your current approach can only serve to shrink Russia’s contribution to the world until it becomes entirely irrelevant.
But you have a choice. You can learn from your mistakes. You can become a statesman.
You can recognize publicly that you have misjudged the determination of a people who have tasted freedom. That you will no longer ask your people to send their sons to die in a senseless war. That you will not resort to nuclear annihilation.
And that from this day forward you will seek to earn the trust of the global community through honesty, integrity and a dedication to building a free and prosperous future for all.