The current crisis precipitated by Russian dictator Vladimir
Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is turning into a surprise
standoff as the vastly outnumbered and under-equipped
Ukrainian armed forces are proving to be’ courageous,,
stubborn and ingenious defenders of their young democracy
under attack from its much larger and more powerful
This has many observers wondering how this crisis and
invasion ends, given Mr. Putin’s reputation for not retreating,
his rationale for invading in the first place, and his
determination to restore the boundaries and power of the
old Soviet empire that was assembled during most of the
Putin’s new strategy of shifting his invasion effort
from taking Kiev, and concentrating on controlling more
territory in the east have left in his army’s retreating wake
horrific evidence of war crimes. Despite Russia’s military
superiority, the plucky and resourceful Ukrainian army has
stalemated the Russian invaders who have evidently
treated Ukrainian civilians with unacceptable brutality.
Warfare has been profoundly changed not only by military
technology, but by communications technology as well.
The 19th century invention of the camera enabled Matthew
Brady to convey the horrors of the U.S. Civil War
battlefield to the public. Subsequent inventions of the
motion picture and television brought the devastations of
the 20th century wars soon after occurrence to the public.
Now, the internet and smart phones bring the images of’
war to public view as they happen. War is ugly, violent
and frightening — gains on the battlefield can be at the
same time nullified in the global communications arena.
This is what has happened to Vladimir Putin’s “special
operation” in Ukraine. No matter how much territory he
has temporarily conquered, he has acquired the reputation
of being one of contemporary history’s bad guys — and
that is likely to be permanent.
His presumed quest to reassemble the old Soviet and
Czarist empires is a backward-looking mirage which has
cost him any legacy of statesmanship that two decades in
the public eye might have otherwise provided.
The weakness of his army’s performance in Ukraine, the
West’s sanctions against his already troubled economy
and regime have also changed his leverage in his
relationship with China, his ally in the competition against
the Western democratic market economies.
in spite of its still-large land area, 160 million inhabitants,
and major natural resources, the Russian Federation today
is not a first-rank economic power as the U.S., European
Union, China and India are. The reputation of its hitherto
vaunted military capability has been diminished in the
Mr, Putin has some strategies and some allies with which
he can deal with the stalemate in Ukraine and the growing
diplomatic and economic sanctions, in the short term, but
there are long-term limits to what he and the Russian
Federation can endure, and already his new strategy in
eastern Ukraine is encountering some of the delays and
obstacles which thwarted his initial strategy.
Sooner rather than later, Putin will have to reconsider
his goals in Ukraine, or he can try to outlast Western resolve.
Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.