For more than a year of fierce fighting and massive destruction, the war in Ukraine has developed into a protracted war for positions, with Russian and Ukrainian soldiers fighting for every meter.
Many experts fear that Russia’s massive population and bountiful natural resources will eventually give Putin the upper hand.
But this is nothing more than a game by the Russian president, claims CIA veteran Douglas London. He believes that Putin’s willingness to engage in a war of attrition is nothing more than a paper tiger.
Putin may not want a long war of attrition, but he wants the world to think he does. His disinformation campaigns are designed to portray himself and Russia as stronger than they are, he wrote in London The Wall Street Journal.
The American has worked in the CIA for more than 30 years and, according to him, has been working against the Kremlin’s intelligence services for a long time.
Russia’s biggest export is fear
The Russian expert Jacob M. He agrees with London and believes that such propaganda has been a historical part of Russia’s strategy.
– There are many who say that Russia’s biggest export is fear, he told Dagbladet.
Gudzimirsky, who has worked with Russian foreign and security policy at NUPI for more than 20 years, explains that this is a key part of how Russia operates on and off the battlefield.
– Such deception, which the Russians call “Maskerovka”, is absolutely central to Russian military strategy. This means that you have to mislead the opponent and make him think that you are going to do something, when in fact you have completely different plans, he tells Dagbladet.
He believes such tactics are in Vladimir Putin’s identity and come naturally to the ex-spy.
Putin volunteered for the KGB, was trained as a Soviet spy and sent on a mission to the German Democratic Republic. One must assume that this is what he looked like as a person and many say that it is the KGB mentality that permeates the ruling elite today in Russia.
Gudzimirsky says that despite his historical willingness to lose large numbers of soldiers (the Soviet Union lost some 8.6 million soldiers during World War II), there are limits to how much Putin’s reputation can hold.
Another fact of Russian strategy is the apparently greater tolerance for the massive loss of human life, but in today’s Russia there is perhaps a limit to what the Putin regime can tolerate in terms of battlefield losses and not least reputation and reputation.
– the core of its legitimacy
Jacob M. Gudzimirsky told Dagbladet that it was crucial for Putin to emerge as a competent leader during a major war.
– That is why the regime is trying to portray this war as a kind of survival war for Russia – and the aim is to garner support for the regime. Too many losses could erode the confidence in Putin as a capable leader, which has been at the heart of his legitimacy for the past 22 years.
He explains that this may have put the Russian president in a difficult position.
– It may seem, then, that Putin is willing to make many sacrifices on the battlefield in order to survive and what was supposed to be a blitzkrieg has turned, against no one’s wishes, into a war of attrition. For now, this war is also about regime survival.
Battle between TV and refrigerator
Douglas London believes that the pressure of Western sanctions and the lack of trading partners for Russian oil and gas may lead to Putin having to choose between strangling the Russian economy or financing the war in Ukraine.
Gudzimirsky agrees with the former American agent that the Russian economy will be crucial to Putin’s future popularity.
– They say that Russian politics is about a battle between the TV and the refrigerator. The television symbolizes publicity while the refrigerator represents personal finances. In the past, Putin has managed to pursue policies that did not have overly negative consequences for Russians’ personal finances, although this has changed in recent years. If the consequences of defeat in Ukraine are too great, it could certainly challenge Putin’s authority.
Putin is in trouble
Jakob Gudzimirski believes that it may be difficult for Putin to maintain the “Maskerovka strategy” in the future.
– I think Putin is in trouble. It is important for him to win this war, but at the same time it may turn out to him that the goals he was trying to achieve are far-fetched. He does not seem able to win this war without mustering more human and financial resources. Many people ask how he managed to achieve this.
Douglas London, a veteran of the CIA, believes it is time for the West to see Putin’s bluff:
It is crucial that Washington instead make the war too costly for Putin to remove any doubt about Western resolve. Be careful of the cards he chooses to show.
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