Putin continues to lose all the wars he started – PRIO Blogs


The word “war” is currently banned in official Russian discourse on Ukraine, but in fact the “special military operation” launched on the orders of President Vladimir Putin in the early morning of February 24 includes several wars fought in different fields.

Putin with military leaders. Photo: Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The massive invasion of Ukraine is the most kinetic of these, but at the highest level, Putin imagines a multidimensional set of contestations with the US, NATO and the EU to reshape the security order. European and even worldwide (Russian Council for International AffairsMarch 2).

This fiery ambition negated all realistic ranged assessments of its own strength and the enemy’s weaknesses, so that none of the quick wars went well for Russia.

The diplomatic offensive recorded the most crushing defeat as the UN General Assembly approved the resolution condemning Russian aggression with only four votes against (Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Eritrea), while China showed his disapproval by abstaining (IzvestiaMarch 2).

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tried to explain this fiasco by accusing the United States of blackmail, but it is quite difficult to believe that states like India, Iran or South Africa South (notable among 35 abstentions) could succumb to blackmail (RIA-Novosti3rd of March).

The main premise behind Lavrov’s sustained pressure on clearly unacceptable demands in a surprisingly vulgar way is that Western unity cannot resist the threat of war with pronounced nuclear overtones (Ezhednevny zhurnalFebruary 28).

Nuclear risks have increased further with the attack on the Zaporizhzha nuclear power plant last Friday, which Moscow is trying to present as Ukrainian sabotage (Nezavissimaya gazeta, March 4). Extraordinary meetings of NATO foreign ministers and the EU Foreign Council strongly condemned Russia’s reckless operations, so that Lavrov’s hopes that “our Western partners” would soon overcome their “hysteria can’t find any supporting evidence (CASS3rd of March).

Instead of plunging the West into disarray, Russian aggression produced a powerful unifying momentum consolidated by American leadership and augmented by remarkable changes in the security policy of many European states, first and foremost Germany (Rosbalt3rd of March).

The EU has found the resolve to unleash an all-out economic war against its main supplier of natural gas, and Russia is suffering far greater losses than expected. The government had carried out stress tests in anticipation of the interruptions of the SWIFT system of financial transactions, but it was not at all ready for the massive sanction, so its fiscal countermeasures proved to be ineffective and misguided (Kommersant3rd of March).

Moscow’s working assumption was that the accumulated financial reserves would be enough to neutralize the immediate damage, but the breakdown of crucial supply chains cannot be compensated by emergency funding, while the coffers have been depleted by sanctions. well targeted (Publico.ru3rd of March).

It is not the medium- or long-term effects of Western economic blows that rattle the Russian government, but their immediate impacts, most of which are unexpected and shocking and cannot be mitigated by trade with China (Republic.ru3rd of March).

Russian domestic air traffic is expected to be blocked as lease contracts are canceled and the Boeing and Airbus fleet cannot be served (Kommersant, March 5). With Western companies closing their business in Russia, Muscovites rushed in large numbers to make final purchases at IKEA hypermarkets, adding to the bank rush (Novaya gazetaMarch 4).

Supply shortages and sharply declining incomes inevitably influence domestic support for the war, which the maximum-volume propaganda campaign fails to stimulate, as even the harshest measures against dissent cannot undo the daily encounters. with the dark reality (Rosbalt3rd of March).

It is not surprising that most independent media platforms are closed or forced to reduce coverage of the military campaign; what is surprising is the delay with the introduction of severe censorship, so that the flow of information in the first crucial days of the invasion was not affected (Republic.ruMarch 4).

The shock of discovering the shameful truth about the war is irreversible, which is why Moscow has effectively lost the information war not only internationally but also in its own country, as public opinion continues to absorb the news regarding the expulsion of Russian teams from major sports and the expanding cultural boycott (Kommersant3rd of March).

After numerous “hybrid” operations targeting various Western vulnerabilities with tools as innovative as the “REvil” hackers or the “Wagner” mercenaries, Russia found itself in the throes of a multi-pronged “hybrid war”, and its countermeasures -attacks, such as the closure of airspace for transit flights to Asia, tend to backfire (MedouzaMarch 4).

What must be particularly painful for Putin is that his personal war against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has produced a disaster that no amount of adulation from his courtiers can conceal.

Inexperienced as he is, the Ukrainian resistance commander has become a heroic leader, who can speak the truth to his nation and address the European Parliament with demands for greater support – and receive a standing ovation for it (News.ruMarch 2).

Putin’s reputation as a calculating schemer crumbled not only because of his blatant lies and historical nonsense, but also because of the clearly exposed incompetence in the planning and execution of the military campaign, guided by his blind belief in Ukraine’s inability to defend its sovereignty (ThePage.uaMarch 2, originally published but no longer available from Moscow Echo).

Even mainstream military commentators in Moscow are beginning to admit, cautiously and elliptically, that the long-prepared blitzkrieg has failed and that in the protracted conflict Ukraine is gaining strength and time is not on Russia’s side (Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie3rd of March; GED3rd of March).

Putin’s assurances that the invasion is going “according to plan” diverge from the reality of stalled offensive bombardment and brutality that his leadership increasingly resembles the behavior of a cornered rat (KommersantMarch 5; Svoboda.orgMarch 2).

In the coming days, the longer Russian troops remain stuck in the mud of a single supply line to Kiev and the quagmire of street fighting on the outskirts of Kharkiv, the less Moscow can threaten NATO with an escalation. to other theaters, for example, in the Baltic, and the less the rescue proposal from the strategic partner in need will be interesting for the Chinese leaders. Ukraine’s courage and stamina to absorb a few more local setbacks that only bring eventual victory closer is beyond doubt; Russia’s ability to survive the impending disaster of defeat is increasingly difficult.


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