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Monday, February 26, 2024

The powerlessness of a crazed dictator

By: Dr Matevž Tomšič

It has been clear for some time that the Russian aggression against Ukraine will not achieve the goals set by its designers, headed by Kremlin autocrat Putin. Their army is losing practically on all fronts. It turned out that its superpower is more of an illusion than anything else.

Russia has the second most powerful army in the world only on paper. It has very large quantities of weapons at its disposal. However, this is eternally outdated since it dates back to the days of the Soviet Union. It has a rather limited number of highly sophisticated weapons. On average, Russian aircraft, tanks, missile systems – not to mention ships – cannot even coincidentally compete with American ones. And they simply do not have the appropriate technological and industrial capacities for the production of modern weapons, as they depended on imports from the West for many components (which was stopped at the start of the aggression).

The warfare tactics of the Russian army are also extremely outdated. It is reminiscent of the way of fighting of the Soviet Red Army from the Second World War with massive indiscriminate artillery bombardment of the enemy and massive frontal infantry attacks, which as a rule claim many casualties among the soldiers. This is a far cry from sophisticated warfare with thorough planning, targeted coordinated attacks, and the use of state-of-the-art technologies (which, for example, was practiced by the Americans in the two Gulf Wars).

Considering this, it is not at all unusual that the Russians in Ukraine failed right from the start. After the initial shock, the Ukrainians quickly consolidated and established an effective defence of their key cities, led by the capital, Kyiv. Thus, the main goal of the aggressors, who wanted to occupy the entire country and subjugate it, probably in such a way as to enthrone a kind of puppet government that would always play to the Kremlin’s tunes, failed. Over time, the occupiers began to lose the already conquered territory. This has especially intensified during the last two months, when the Ukrainians, who have meanwhile acquired certain sophisticated weapons from their Western allies (such as long-range missile systems), have carried out several successful counter-offensives in the north, east and south of the country, in which they liberated a lot of territory. The Russians have found themselves on the defensive, from which they cannot extricate themselves. The possibility that in the end they will have to withdraw from Ukraine, completely defeated militarily, is increasingly looming on the horizon.

Such a situation represents a major blow to Russia’s image as a major world power, as well as a threat to the stability of the throne of its Kremlin ruler. A defeat against a smaller and less well-armed neighbour, which Putin and his camarilla look down on (for them, Ukrainians are not really a nation at all and as such do not deserve their own country), would represent a real disaster. That is why they have been changing their propagandistic narrative lately. They are explaining to their citizens how they fight against NATO in Ukraine. So not only against the Ukrainians, but against the entire West. In this way, even defeats on the battlefield appear less humiliating.

The worst blow to Putin’s pride apparently came from the attack on the bridge near the city of Kerch, which connects the Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland, when part of the roadway collapsed and damaged the railway section of the bridge. This bridge symbolises the Russian appropriation of this peninsula, which was annexed in 2014. Therefore, Russia responded with a violent air attack on Ukrainian cities, regardless of possible civilian casualties. However, we have already gotten used to this kind of brutality from Putin’s regime, as he constantly proves that he cares very little for the lives of both Ukrainians and his own soldiers. But such moves cannot change the course of the war much. They are more an expression of the impotence of the crazy Kremlin dictator.

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