What Putin Has Done and What He Knows

Thursday, May 12, 2022

The Center for European Policy Analysis has published an analysis of Putin's May 9 speech, arguing that Putin is not, contrary to some speculation, in the dark about how badly his war is going.

And the Russian people may not be completely in the dark, either. These conclusions stem from the fact that Putin spent so much time justifying his invasion:

Ukraine, as of April 26. (Image by Viewsridge, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
First, it means that Russia's war casualties cannot be concealed from the public, no matter how much Putin tries to suppress information. He needed to give the public a justification for why lives have been lost.

Second, it means that Putin himself knows that the war has not gone well. In the West, we speculate endlessly about whether Putin has access to accurate information and good advice, or whether he lives in a bubble believing his own rhetoric. His Victory Day speech indicates he well understands what's really going on.

Third, it means that Putin knows he cannot rally the Russian people around the notion that Ukraine is an enemy. He needs to argue that he is fighting NATO, even though that is not the case. This is a weak point in Russia's war effort going forward, as information is clearly reaching home that Russia is actually fighting against Ukraine and only Ukraine.

Instead of a victory over Ukraine, Putin has presided over a significant desecration of Russia. He has lost perhaps a third of Russia's conventional military capabilities, including over 20,000 dead soldiers, by some estimates. He has lost over $400bn in central bank reserves, triggered crippling sanctions against the economy, and sparked a European-wide determination to abandon purchases of Russian oil and gas, its main sources of income. [bold added]
Despite the thoughtful analysis, which includes a good summary of the consequences Putin now has raining down on Russia, the piece is no more clear than any of us on what that evil, little man will do next.

-- CAV


: Added missing acknowledgment to image.

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