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What If Putin Thinks He’s Winning?

When Russian dictator Vladimir Putin first started threatening war with Ukraine we observed that he didn’t have to invade and start a major shooting war to get what he wanted – the old Russian tactics of undermining an adversary through covert operations seemed to be weakening the Zelensky government, which was already hamstrung by the economic damage wrought by Putin’s annexation of Crimea and Donbas, and western calls for negotiations were sure to give Putin much of what he wanted.

But Putin invaded anyway, leaving us to wonder if this wasn’t the beginning of a great Eurasian Nationalist push for a new world order anchored in Moscow, Teheran, and Beijing.


While the new world order envisioned by Eurasian Nationalists has so far failed to manifest itself, some elements of it seem to be working – at least working well enough to prevent the total collapse of a Russian economy increasingly isolated from the western global economy with its axis running from the EU, through Washington to Japan.


So, despite the western sanctions on various individual Russians, such as Putin’s purported mistress, and the confiscation of yachts and mansions belonging to various Russian oligarchs, and horror of horrors, McDonalds abandoning the Russian market, nothing the US and our allies have done seems to be forcing the Russians to withdraw their forces from Ukraine.


In an honest media environment this would be called a failure of Biden’s strategy to defend Ukraine and to deter Russian aggression, but then again, since Biden has never really articulated what his endgame for American involvement in Ukraine is, perhaps today’s stalemate is the best one might hope for.


Indeed, during his briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Intel Agency (DIA) Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier was asked “can Ukraine win” the conflict against Russia?


Lt. General Berrier replied: “That is a difficult predication to make. I think where the assessment is at, is a prolonged stalemate should no factor change on either side. In other words, the Russians continue to do what they’re doing, and we continue to do what we are doing for the Ukrainians.”

Our friends at the Conservative Treehouse were justifiably outraged at this idea, commenting:


The Pentagon assessment is the best that can be achieved is a stalemate. Billions of billions of dollars being poured into Ukraine, and the most likely outcome is a stalemate. More people killed, an endless need for continued money to be poured into the ‘war’, and the best possible outcome is a stalemate.


So, riddle me this, why isn’t the U.S. policy position advocating for Zelenskyy and Putin to enter negotiations for a resolution?


What possible U.S. interest can be advanced, knowing the only outcome is a stalemate, where people are killed on either side and money spent on a proxy conflict that ends in loggerheads at some distant point months from now?


Also, why has no U.S. media outlet or pundit played the remarks and assessment from the Defense Intelligence Agency, so that the American people can understand the intent of U.S. policy?


Being satisfied with pouring billions of dollars into a Russia – Ukraine stalemate seems to us to be both immoral and a shameful betrayal of American taxpayers and the Ukrainians who have bet their futures on America and the West. What’s more, it may be giving Putin exactly what he wants, or at least what he is willing to settle for.


When the Russians first invaded there was a lot of talk about a quick victory and the possibility that Russia would annex Ukraine as part of the Eurasianist dream to reestablish the borders of the old Soviet Union or Russian Empire.


But when that quick victory for the Russians didn’t materialize, nobody seems to have noticed that they appear to have readjusted their war aims to something more achievable and brutal – wrecking and depopulating Eastern and Southern Ukraine.


While the war has cost Putin thousands of lives lost and the destruction of vast supplies of Soviet-era military equipment these losses are largely meaningless in a dictatorship such as Putin’s Russia. The cost to Ukraine has been proportionally much higher.


Setting aside the loss of human capital, replacing the trillions of dollars of housing, infrastructure, and industrial capacity the Russians have destroyed is far beyond the internal capacity of Ukraine.


For example, the massive Azovstal complex of warehouses, railroad tracks and industrial furnaces at the center of the siege of Mariupol sits on 4 square miles along the Sea of Azov coast, across the river from the city's downtown district. Before the invasion, the plant employed more than 10,000 people. Just rebuilding the vast Azovstal metallurgical works destroyed in the siege of Mariupol would cost billions, if not trillions of dollars that Ukraine could never generate internally.


Meaning the Ukrainians will be looking to the United States and the European Union to rebuild the industrial capacity of the country once the Russians leave. And, if they don’t leave but continue to rumble through the south and east of the country grinding the territory they occupy into dust, Ukraine will remain an economic basket case dependent on the West for everything from weapons, to energy supplies, to food, to salaries for the Ukrainian government and military.


Looking at the present situation on the ground in Ukraine Putin may have lost the war that he announced when he invaded back in February, but having enticed Biden into giving the Ukrainian tar baby a full bear hug, it looks like Putin is willing to settle for winning an economic war that will cost the United States trillions of dollars to prosecute in the rebuilding of Ukraine.


  • Vladimir Putin

  • Ukraine

  • covert operations

  • Eurasian Nationalists

  • western sanctions

  • Zelenskyy

  • Defense Intelligence Agency

  • Mariupol

  • Azovstal complex

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