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Friday, May 27, 2022

National interest: these are the options for Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Lawrence J. Korb and Professor of Political Science at Penn State Brandwyn University in the US magazine “National Interest”, that the Russian war in Ukraine has collided with the farce of history.

How will this end? Unfortunately, optimism is not on the table. There are a number of possibilities

He said that history records that wars start because heads of state or their chiefs of cabinet believe in at least three ideas: first, that the war will be relatively short, second, that the war will end with a victory in their favor, and third , that the military, civilian, and economic losses will be insignificant compared to the expected gains. Furthermore, estimates of enemy targets and capabilities, if taken into account, are often lower than they are and based on outdated information or biased interpretations.

In the case of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II ordered war on Japan in 1904 in the expectation of a Japanese defeat on land and sea. But Russia’s unexpected defeat by Japan sparked a protest in St. Petersburg in 1905. Although the uprising was put down, it demonstrated the fragility of the regime. In 1917, amid the pressures of World War I, the regime collapsed, first by the Tsar’s abdication of the Kerensky government, and second by the Bolshevik revolution in November of that year.

The writer drew attention to Vladimir Putin, not Nicholas II. Until 2022, he was confirming what Western writers describe as a “grey zone of warfare” or “acute warfare” where military force is used to support military objectives and vice versa. Its main goals were to destabilize former Soviet republics and nibble at Russian-controlled enclaves, as happened in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Russia’s use of force was limited, sometimes tactical, and it remained defensive in its strategic goals. The objective was to stop the process of westernization of the former Soviet space in Europe and confront the rules of the international system led by the United States, which, in Putin’s opinion, do not do justice to Russia.

Russian criticism is biased
Russia’s expectations of a quick and relatively low-cost victory in Ukraine were based on biased Russian assessments of the Ukrainian military’s capabilities and underestimated its leadership. Once upon a time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was Ukraine’s humorous man. Unexpectedly, he turned to Winston Churchill in Eastern Europe, rallying resistance against Russian attackers and turning the tables on Russian information warfare. Instead of seeking safety in another country, as Putin hoped, Zelensky has become a symbol of national defiance as he speaks to NATO and other leaders outside of Ukraine.

At the same time, Russia has isolated itself internationally, as a result of its clumsy and deceptive tactics of the Soviet model, and as a result of its desire to commit massacres by targeting civilians. Unlike in Soviet times, cell phone cameras reveal events in real time and expose the falsity of statements by government officials.

military dead end
Faced with the military stalemate, Putin expanded air and missile strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hitting hospitals, seeking to intimidate Ukrainian leaders and the civilian population. Putin seems hell-bent on overthrowing the Ukrainian regime and negotiating the establishment of a puppet government loyal to him. Therefore, the hypothesis that the conflict will continue for weeks and perhaps months cannot be ruled out.

How will this end? Unfortunately, optimism is not on the table. There are a number of possibilities: first, that Putin pursues a more aggressive policy and establishes a remote control regime in Ukraine, second, that Putin fails to isolate Zelensky and his government and resorts to horizontal escalation, which could expand the war to countries providing aid to Ukraine, or resorting to vertical escalation with the use of tactical nuclear weapons to avoid a humiliating defeat. Third, the outbreak of a prolonged conflict of weeks or months in a conventional and unconventional war, in the face of a possible nuclear escalation. The fourth option is the availability of clear thinking and professional methods to end the conflict. Is it possible to reach this stage? Hopefully, before there is more murder and destruction.


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