Is Putin Finally Understanding?

Is Putin Finally Understanding?

Paul Craig Roberts

US Col. Douglas McGregor agrees with me that the conflict in Ukraine must be brought to a close or it will lead to a wider and more dangerous war.  As Russophobic neoconservatives control US foreign policy, they can and will block any Western effort to end the conflict.  For this reason, it is up to Putin to assemble the necessary force to quickly crush Ukraine and bring the conflict to an end. 

The question I have been raising since the beginning of the conflict is why did the Kremlin fail to recognize that it is the slow pace of the special operation that is producing ever more serious provocations that are likely to end in nuclear war. I continue to raise this question because, like John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, I understand that no goal, no agenda, no ideology, no principle can justify a nuclear war.  Many of the West’s provocations have crossed declared red lines with no response from Putin other than words, and it is the worsening provocations that eventually will go too far and produce a wider war, which would bring nuclear weapons into the conflict.

My concern is that the risks of escalation exceed the benefits, as Putin sees them, of a slow and ongoing conflict instead of a rapid defeat of Ukraine.  

In many ways Putin telegraphs to Washington  irresolution, confusion, weakness, and unwillingness to get the job done. Putin began his limited special operation before he had made the necessary military preparations, and Putin has had to fight most of the war with a small private army (until recently) known as the Wagner Group.  Putin wasted eight years permitting himself to be deceived by the West about the Minsk Agreement while Ukraine, but not Russia, built up a large army.

Putin has also made it clear that, despite proven Western hostility toward Russia, Russia has a small army and that Putin seems reluctant to enlarge it to a size, the very presence of which, would compel the end of the conflict.  Putin’s thoughtless verbal attack on Evgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group made Putin seem vulnerable to a coup and poorly supported by the most effective Russian troops. Putin’s endless gratuitous mistakes serve Washington, not Russia.  With Prigozhin’s death yesterday in a mysterious plane crash, Putin’s thoughtless assertion that Prigozhin was a traitor for attempting a coup will cause suspicion among Russian patriots that Putin was responsible for the crash that killed Russia’s leading war hero.  

Perhaps worst of all for Putin is the continual and growing Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory including Crimea and Moscow. A few days ago a Russian posted on that Putin’s withholding of the Russian advance has allowed Ukraine with long-range weapons from the West to destroy Shebekino, a Russian city of 50,000 people in Belgorod Oblast. “The city had to be evacuated, and to this day normal life has not returned there.”  The New York Times reported on June 12 “Shebekino is a ghost town after days of shelling.”  Russian geopolitical experts have concluded that Ukraine’s ability to directly attack Russian territory in Belgorod, Bryansk and other regions is very painful for Russians and has caused some Russians to think that perhaps Washington’s propaganda is true that Russia is weak and can be defeated.  The success of Ukraine’s attacks inside Russia itself certainly undermine Putin’s efforts to give Russians confidence that Russia is a rising power. How is Russia a power when Putin is incapable of preventing Ukraine from destroying a Russian city and daily attacking Moscow with drones?

Col. McGregor believes that finally Putin is shedding his delusion that the West is capable of reason and willing to work together for a common good. Possibly the Russian intellectuals, many of whom are more pro-American than pro-Russian, have served as a constraint on Putin, boxing him in between themselves on one side and patriotic Russians on the other, a lose-lose situation in which Putin can satisfy neither party. McGregor says Putin is building an army of 1.2 million, a sizable force that will make it clear that neither Ukraine nor NATO can prevail in conventional war with Russia.

If Putin had raised an army a decade ago, there never would have been the US orchestrated Maidan Revolution that set the conflict in motion.  Putin’s limited vision is the source of the conflict. Is Putin too liberal to be an effective war leader?

My own experiences with the Russian intelligentsia convinced me that many of them, and perhaps most, are susceptible to American propaganda because of their experiences with communism and prefer acceptance by the West over Russian sovereignty.

It is often the case that intellectuals are allied against the people, as they most certainly are in the United States where the principal purpose of intellectuals is to demonize America and its white population and to infect the American people with guilt and shame.  Many books have been written about the treasonous character of intellectuals.  Why should Russian intellectuals be any different?

Washington will send weapons to Ukraine as long as Zelensky will sacrifice Ukrainian soldiers, and, awaiting in the wings, are Polish troops and Poland’s design on Western Ukraine. And perhaps also a brewing conflict between Belarus and Poland.  

Unless Putin does amass the forces necessary to quickly take Kiev and Odessa, cut Ukraine completely from the Black Sea, hang Zelensky and his Nazi government, and install a Russian ally in office in Kiev, the conflict is definitely going to escalate into a wider war with all its dangers, unless, of course, Putin surrenders and accepts another worthless agreement.

Will Putin’s solution be the Minsk Agreement, or its counterpart, all over again?  If so, unless Russia surrenders to the West, the result will be nuclear war.

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