Valencia, June 28
Putin’s troops are getting a bloody nose in Ukraine but that makes the Russian leader even more dangerous. Although, of course, the official media in Russia is giving its population their government’s propaganda about how the war in Ukraine is going, that’s to be expected in an autocratic country. However, there is a lot of misinformation appearing in the Western press as well, which may mislead us into thinking Russia can be driven out of Ukraine.
Putin is repeatedly reported in Western media to be ill with Alzheimer’s, various stages of cancer, dying, or being simply mad. Almost certainly none of that is true. When Putin makes speeches he looks the same as he always has, he doesn’t shout, rant or rave as Hitler used to do. Instead, he talks in a very controlled and measured way almost like a middle ranking civil servant giving the latest agricultural data in a 10 year plan.
The Western media also seems to report only the successes of the Ukrainians, and under-reports Russian military successes and Ukrainian defeats. The impression from the Western media is that the Ukrainians are generally thrashing the Russian forces and maybe could drive them out of Ukrainian territory. That’s a very unlikely outcome.
We’ve all seen for ourselves on television the war crime level of indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilian blocks of flats and homes by the Russian invading forces. Any civilised person can only be on the side of the brave Ukrainians in this war, but that’s no reason to have unrealistic hopes for Ukraine.
A more sober and accurate evaluation of what’s happening in Ukraine at the moment is probably as follows:
1. Putin expected to overrun the whole of Ukraine including the capital Kiev in about a week, and install a Russian oriented puppet government. The Ukrainian response was so ferocious that this plan has been ditched now.
2. Russia’s forces will now concentrate only on taking the coastal areas of Ukraine to the south which border on the Black Sea and the Azov sea (where part of the Russian naval fleet is kept), and the Eastern Ukraine border with Russia where many Russian speakers and supporters live (Donbas, Lugansk, Donetsk).
3. From the time of the 1917 Communist revolution, Russia has always exaggerated both its military and technical expertise. While the May day parades in Moscow show off frighteningly big intercontinental missiles and a smartly uniformed and disciplined army, the actual Russian army is nowhere near that level, and Western technology remains way superior to Russia’s.
4. But in the end Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons with which it can obliterate Ukraine from the map. Just one nuclear bomb on Ukrainian territory near Kiev and the threat of more to come would be a game changer which would lead to the immediate capitulation of Ukraine, just as Japan capitulated when it saw the awesome power on nuclear bomb in the Second World War.
5. The West with its current leaders will not directly confront Russia in any circumstances.
Make no mistake, Putin is not going to leave Ukraine with his tail between his legs. If push comes to shove, he will use the nuclear option to demonstrate his serious intentions. And all of Europe will be in trouble.