Putin's long war strategy is set to win: What can be done to reverse it?

A military counter-offensive at this stage is the only tangible option to oust Putin’s forces from Ukraine.

 A service member of pro-Russian troops in a uniform without insignia stands next to a truck in the separatist-controlled settlement of Rybinskoye during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 5, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)
A service member of pro-Russian troops in a uniform without insignia stands next to a truck in the separatist-controlled settlement of Rybinskoye during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 5, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime invaded Ukraine 10 days ago, and from a vantage point of Russian military warfare, it is a footnote in terms of time.

Contrary to the analyses of Putin’s worries about suffering devastating defeats with enormous human carnage, the Russian strongman is willing to use his troops as cannon fodder to achieve his neo-imperialist aims.

John R. Schindler, a military historian and former counterintelligence officer with the US National Security Agency, captured the state of Putin’s war timeline: “Per Twitter, the Russian military in Ukraine looks like a confused, disorganized rabble prone to drunkenness and looting. They were the same when they reached Paris in 1814 and took Berlin in 1945. Don’t read too much into it just yet. Russians at war are like this, ever thus.”

Distinguished British historian Sir Antony James Beevor quoted the great Russian poet Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev in the opening of his book about the battle for Stalingrad: “Russia cannot be understood with the mind alone.”

The departure point for grasping Putin’s decision to annex Ukraine ostensibly has been viewed using a largely Western reason-based model that Putin is bonkers and a python-like maximum-pressure sanctions strategy to strangle his economy will reverse his jingoism.

 Destroyed Russian military vehicles are seen on a street in the settlement of Borodyanka, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 3, 2022 (credit: Maksim Levin/Reuters) Destroyed Russian military vehicles are seen on a street in the settlement of Borodyanka, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 3, 2022 (credit: Maksim Levin/Reuters)

Last week, Bill Roggio, my colleague at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in the UK’s Daily Mail: “Sympathy for the outnumbered and outgunned defenders of Kyiv has led to the exaggeration of Russian setbacks, misunderstanding of Russian strategy, and even baseless claims from amateur psychoanalysts that Putin has lost his mind. A more sober analysis shows that Russia may have sought a knockout blow, but always had well-laid plans for follow-on assaults if its initial moves proved insufficient.”

Roggio served as a signalman and infantryman in the US Army and is widely considered a leading military expert.

“Nobody knows for sure, but Putin’s actions appear to be that of a cold and calculating adversary,” he wrote. “Dismissing his decision to invade Ukraine as a form of madness is effectively an excuse to ignore Putin’s likely motivations and future actions.”

Putin’s future invasions could very well target Poland, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states.

The West and the military alliance NATO have largely accommodated Putin’s absorption of illegally seized territory in Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in Ukraine in 2014. Without question, Putin smells blood and has long viewed the West and NATO as feeble, severely exhausted, weak and half-paper tigers.

IT IS also worth noting that Putin’s armed forces played the decisive role in rescuing Syrian dictator Bashar Assad from a likely defeat. There were no shortages of war crimes carried out by Putin’s air power during the military campaign to crush the revolt against Assad. The death toll from the ongoing Syrian civil war is well over 500,000 people.

Putin did not pay a price for his crimes against humanity in Syria, where he formed a military alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran – the world’s top state-sponsor of terrorism, according to the US – and the Lebanese terrorist movement Hezbollah.

Potent sanctions have real utility to inflict intense pain on Putin, but a military counteroffensive at this stage is the only tangible option to oust Putin’s forces from the Ukraine and stymie his future military adventurism.

Ukrainian soldiers are engaged in a valiant combat effort to roll back the Russian bear.

The Ukraine’s indescribably courageous President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his now legendary line in response to the US request that he be evacuated: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Zelensky just declared his country’s pressing need for a no-fly zone across Ukraine and fighter jets.

NATO, the largely European military alliance that was designed to contain Soviet Russia, rejected Zelensky’s desperate plea. Zelensky’s rejoinder: The “self-hypnosis of those who are weak, under-confident inside” showed that “not everyone considers the struggle for freedom to be Europe’s No. 1 goal.”

“All the people who will die starting from this day will also die because of you because of your weakness, because of your disunity,” he said, rejecting the idea that NATO’s interventionism would provoke further Russian regime bellicosity.

The 27-member European Union bloc of countries pledged fighter jets to Ukraine last Sunday. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign-policy chief said: “We are going to supply arms and even fighter jets… We are not talking about just ammunition. We are providing the most important arms to go to war.”

The pledge turned out to be empty rhetoric. Last Tuesday, the EU and its member nations walked back their promises.

The EU is also not prepared to accept Ukraine – the largest territorial country in Europe after Russia – into the EU. All of this helps to explain why soggy appeasement of Putin continues to largely govern EU-Russian relations.

Writing in Europe’s top-circulation newspaper, the German-language Bild daily, Mathias Döpfner urged NATO members “to act now” and move “their troops and weapons” to prove that “our values and our future will still be defended.”

Döpfner, who is the chairman of the Springer publishing company that owns Bild, said if NATO won’t commit, Europe must intervene.

“France, England, Germany and America must, as an alliance of freedom, end Putin’s murderous activities with their troops and weapons in Kyiv and with modern cyberwarfare in Moscow,” he wrote.

Döpfner is one of the only prominent voices in Europe urging boots on the ground in Ukraine.

It is difficult to imagine a Putin military defeat in Ukraine without a no-fly zone, deliveries of fighter jets to Ukraine and NATO and Western troops on the ground in the Eastern European country.

To state the obvious: The revolutionary Islamic regime in Tehran and the Communist Party of China are closely watching the war. A defeat for Putin could very well disincentivize Iran’s regime from pursuing its imperialism in the Middle East, as well as its campaign of global terrorism, and stop a Chinese regime invasion of Taiwan.

The stakes are enormously high.