Putin is resorting to siege tactics against key Ukrainian cities, bombing from afar with his ground troops largely stagnant. Stephen Biddle, a professor of international affairs at Columbia University, says Putin’s shift is likely based on a hope that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will give up rather than allow the killing and destruction to continue. “This plan is very unlikely to work. Slaughtering innocent civilians and destroying their homes and communities is mostly just stiffening Ukrainian resistance and resolve,” Biddle said in an email exchange.
Despite failing to score a quick victory, Putin is not relenting in the face of mounting international pressure, including sanctions that have battered his economy. The Western world is aligned largely against Putin, but there have been no indications he is losing support from the majority of the Russian public that relies predominantly on state-controlled TV for information.
Ukrainian defenders, outgunned but benefitting from years of American and NATO training and an accelerating influx of foreign arms and moral support, are showing new signs of confidence as the invading force struggles to regroup.
Russian shortcomings in Ukraine might be the biggest shock of the war so far. After two decades of modernization and professionalization, Putin’s forces have proved to be ill-prepared, poorly coordinated and surprisingly stoppable. The extent of Russian troop losses is not known in detail, although NATO estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 have died in the first four weeks — potentially as many as Russia lost in a decade of war in Afghanistan.
© Copyright LaPresse