Joe Biden, in signing an additional $800 billion (€720 billion) in military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, said the goal was to ensure that the war “will never be a victory for Putin, no matter what strides he makes on the battlefield”.
Despite the US President, his Russian counterpart will never be able to subdue ordinary Ukrainians who have taken up arms to protect their homes and families. In fact, it is increasingly likely that Putin does not even have control over the major cities.
The extent of his failure is astounding. He was supposed to win this fight in days; In three weeks, he still hasn’t captured Kyiv or beheaded the Ukrainian government.
His army suffered humiliating losses, which led him to begin firing advisers en masse to lessen the blame. He also aroused the strong nationalist spirit of the Ukrainian people, even turning many Russian-speaking residents into malicious enemies of Russia. Ukrainians will pass on their memories of this war from generation to generation, poisoning their children’s views of Russia long after Putin is gone.
Putin has also united the West, spurred Nato to increase military spending, sparked a resurgence of pro-democracy sentiment, and exposed his own weakness by clumsily repressing in the media. and made himself the crown prince of war crimes.
Biden first labeled Putin a “war criminal” on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Russia’s economy is in disarray, losing decades of progress and possibly doing permanent damage to the country’s energy markets.
Four of Putin’s generals died on the battlefield. Russian international sports and cultural figures are bored with his war. His financiers lost their fortunes after taking over offshore bank accounts, properties and yachts.
Put it all together and it’s clear that the war has ravaged Russia – and perhaps crippled Putin as well. Crucial to an autocrat’s grasp of power is the perception of power. Like the absolute kings of centuries ago, modern tyrants rely on elites and the masses to believe that they can do no wrong. Their right to rule cannot be questioned because they must present themselves as vital to the survival of the country.
As Hal Brands and John Lewis Gaddis wrote for Foreign Affair magazine last year, it was “the infallible claim that legitimacy in autocracy must rest”. They added: “That’s why the graceful departures of dictators are so rare.”
Now, Putin sees himself as a joker. After he imposed ‘sanctions’ on US politicians, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “None of us are planning travel trips to Russia, and None of us have a bank account that we won’t be able to access, so we’ll move on.” Similarly, the meme mocks the physical distance Putin places between him and his advisers. on very long tables speaks to his diminished image.
Warfighters also need a degree of international respect to maintain the illusion that they can bring prestige and security to their people. Garry Kasparov, a Soviet-born human rights activist, knows this all too well. As he explains on Twitter: “For those who still don’t understand, Putin stays in power by keeping his money flowing and his oligarchs happy. To do this, he needs to be the irreplaceable, big boss. There is no legitimacy through real elections, dictators must rule by force, propaganda and de facto legitimacy is created by things like talks with leaders foreign “.
Putin’s ability to represent his country in the world community is now affected, perhaps permanently.
Indeed, Russia’s disclosure of military incompetence and complete failure to achieve its goals makes negotiating an end to hostilities difficult for Putin. The worse his behavior becomes, the harder it is to “give” him something to reach a peace agreement.
After weeks of Russia attacking civilians, it’s unbelievable that he can escape responsibility for the war crimes witnessed by the entire planet. Likewise, giving in to his demand that Ukraine give up the possibility of an alliance with the West would be a terrible betrayal of the heroic efforts of the Ukrainian people.
This is precisely why US intelligence officials expect Putin to become increasingly desperate and reassert his aggression. Beth Sanner, a former top intelligence official, recently told New York Times: “It’s not a light move for Putin and now he has no choice but to double down. This is what autocrats do. You can’t walk or you look weak. ”
Ironically, Putin’s crushing defeat and international humiliation could be the biggest hurdles to ending his horribly miscalculated war. It is difficult to label a war criminal as a “lost person”.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/putin-has-already-failed-in-ukraine-and-that-might-make-it-harder-to-end-the-war-41459734.html Putin failed in Ukraine – and that could make ending the war harder