Tuesday, May 17, 2022
The central point is one we all know: Ukraine has prevented a Russian victory but has not yet won the war. There is still hard fighting to come, but the battlefield is increasingly tilted in Ukraine’s favor. Vladimir Putin wanted to seize the capital, decapitate the Zelensky regime, install a puppet government, and control as much of the country as he could, incorporating some of that territory into Mother Russia and establishing “independent” republics in the rest. Not only did he fail militarily, he united the Ukrainian people in fierce opposition, including those who speak Russian, live near the border, and once favored Moscow. This broad opposition forged a nation and marks a significant change since Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and Donbas region in 2014.
Putin’s invasion and Ukraine’s resistance has three immediate consequences. First, it has fueled the fighting spirit of all Ukrainians, led by a smart, tenacious army and Churchillian president. Second, it means that, outside Crimea, Russia can only control the territory it seizes with a permanent occupying army. That’s expensive and dangerous. Third, it dashes any hopes Putin may have had for ruling the country with a proxy regime that could defend itself.
I certainly hope Charles Lipson is right. But can you really trust the news? I doubt it.