Does Putin Realize the Danger in Projecting the Image of a Weak Russia?

Does Putin Realize the Danger in Projecting the Image of a Weak Russia?

Paul Craig Roberts

Militarily and diplomatically weak EU countries, not one of which is capable of going to war, are stealing the cars, cell phones, and even soap of Russians  who enter Europe  as tourists. 

Why Russians want to be tourists in the EU that is aligned with the US and Ukraine against Russia is a mystery.  Although Germany, for example, would be instantly defeated in a war with Russia, the German government feels secure in robbing Russians who come to Germany as tourists. 

How is it that such a weak country as Germany can feel secure robbing Russian citizens?

Perhaps the answer is that by permitting a conflict to continue for 17 months against an impotent Ukraine, Putin has convinced Europe and the US that Russia is too weak to risk Western ire by winning in Ukraine.  

Clearly the West believes this as we can see from humiliation after humiliation delivered to Putin and to Russia.  Putin could not even attend the meeting of BRICS, his own creation, in South Africa without being arrested and turned over to the International Criminal Court.  Clearly, no one is afraid of Putin and Russia.

When you have enemies who do not fear you and even mock you, you can expect provocations to rise in intensity.  You can also expect to demoralize your own people and your own army, thus encouraging your opponent to be more aggressive. This has been my concern since February 2022, not because I am on Russia’s side but because I believe the provocations will result in a wider, likely nuclear, war.  

Col. Douglas Macgregor has come to share my concern.  When asked recently in an interview to assess Putin as a war leader, Macgregor said that Putin is overly cautious and that there is concern in the Russian military that by allowing the conflict to drag on, Putin gives credibility to the propaganda that Russia is weak and this encourages more Western intervention.

Prigozhin, the Wagner Group commander, had this opinion, and when he tried to get Putin’s attention he was falsely accused of attempting a coup and treason.  It seems the Russian government and media invents false narratives just as does the West.

Col. Macgregor says, “I am worried — if you don’t act quickly to end it, at some point, you’re in trouble — and he’s in trouble, his country is.  So, I think there has to be an end to this — but you can’t end it at the negotiating table. If you march to the Dnieper River and send your tank columns into Kiev, then you have a shot at ending it. But if he sits where he is, I don’t know . . .”

Neither does Putin, but he continues to sit there all the while convincing the neoconservatives that Russia lacks the strength to launch an offensive even against a defeated Ukrainian army. Does Putin really want to convince the West that Russia is too weak to really fight or that he is too much of a goody two shoes compassionate liberal to be a war leader?  It would be irresponsible to lead the West to such a dangerous conclusion.  If Putin really wants to save lives, he should hurry up and win the war.

Putin once said that Russia would never again fight a war on its own territory but has been doing so since February 2022.  A day or two ago Ukraine attacked the Russian city of Novaya Kakhovka and left the city without power.  Putin responded to the attack with mere words.  I sometimes wonder if Putin realizes that Russia is at war.

At a G-20 news conference last Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said, ““The Americans want to strategically defeat us.”  Perhaps Lavrov will share his belated realization with Putin.

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