“. . . But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if the West is only playing into Putin’s hands once again?
The possibility is suggested in a powerful reminiscence from The Times’s Carlotta Gall of her experience covering Russia’s siege of Grozny, during the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s. In the early phases of the war, motivated Chechen fighters wiped out a Russian armored brigade, stunning Moscow. The Russians regrouped and wiped out Grozny from afar, using artillery and air power.
Russia’s operating from the same playbook today. When Western military analysts argue that Putin can’t win militarily in Ukraine, what they really mean is that he can’t win clean. Since when has Putin ever played clean?
“There is a whole next stage to the Putin playbook, which is well known to the Chechens,” Gall writes. “As Russian troops gained control on the ground in Chechnya, they crushed any further dissent with arrests and filtration camps and by turning and empowering local protégés and collaborators.”
Suppose for a moment that Putin never intended to conquer all of Ukraine: that, from the beginning, his real targets were the energy riches of Ukraine’s east, which contain Europe’s second-largest known reserves of natural gas (after Norway’s).”
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Bret Thank you. It surprised me to learn late in life, from writers in the New York Times, that intelligent people sometimes have to learn to understand and hold two opposing ideas in their mind at the same time, understanding that there is some truth to both. There might be some relativity to reality, especially since reality might be unknowable with certainty.
I might dare to add to your sophisticated analysis, that all the critics of Putin might be completely right, but it makes no difference. Putin doesn’t need, and possibly wasn’t after Kiev, at least, as his primary objective. For these reasons, and many others, I support NATO to enforce a no fly zone. Some things are worth dying for.
David Lindsay is a military historian, and the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” an historical novel about a famous 30 year civil war in Vietnam, 1770-1802, who blogs at InconvenientNews.net.