Putin’s myopic war reminds me culturally of what happened with the US in Vietnam. America is slowly painting itself into a corner after fighting a losing war for years. It was over before the first act finished. Likewise, Russia’s war in Ukraine will end badly for everyone.
Russia’s unmotivated fighting force includes poorly trained civilians and prison conscripts. Putin has showcased just how bad and outdated Russian Defense technology is. Hell, they are buying drones from Iran! The last time I checked, Iran wasn’t exactly leading the World with their weapons technology.
Putin highly miscalculated the global reaction to the invasion of Ukraine, and he underestimated the fighting spirit of free Ukraine.
All the failing elements of America in Vietnam are present for Putin.
Aside from Boomer-aged Russians, most young Russians I’ve met under 40 don’t want anything to do with the war in Ukraine. They certainly don’t want to fight a war without a clear purpose aside from stroking Putin’s ego.
Russia is up against a highly motivated fighting force, a charismatic leader in Zelensky; they have most of the Free World’s backing and are now better armed than Russia.
So what happens next?
When will the war end?
I see the conflict likely dragging on another year and likely beyond the 2024 US elections.
Putin may have made a colossal mistake, but he’s a smart and cunning dictator. He knows the US remains a divided country with a weak President, and he knows that no actual intervention will come from America in Ukraine until the next US President is elected in 2024.
He also knows he has a nuclear Ace and is not afraid to use it.
The war will likely end with a face-saving exit for Putin that probably sees the eastern part of Ukraine annexed permanently by Russia and Putin recognizing Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Ukraine will become a much stronger country with a likely EU membership, but it will take decades to rebuild, and millions of refugees will not come back having put down roots in other countries throughout the Western World. So Ukraine will need to consider how to keep and attract back the new generation who will rebuild.
Russia will feel the economic side effects for decades. Then, finally, it could be the end of Russia as we knew it, with territories potentially declaring independence from Putin’s weakening grip.
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One thing for sure is that the long-term psychological damage to the Russian fighters will be genuine. If you think the Department of Veterans Affairs is wrong in America, imagine the support you’d get as a returning warfighter in Russia.
As I write this, I can’t reflect on how often people in power are bad students of history. We could have learned something from a prolonged and failing Russian occupation in Afghanistan, and we did not.
Now Russia is doomed to follow the same failing playbook that America used in Vietnam with no good outcomes.
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