Putin is not learning from History

Russian Tank destroyed in Mariupol - CC BY 4.0 (Міністерство внутрішніх справ України (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine)
Russian Tank destroyed in Mariupol – CC BY 4.0 (Міністерство внутрішніх справ України (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine)

Embroiled in its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army is now avoiding the formidable Ukraine armed forces and seeking to undermine Ukrainian morale by using cruise missiles and bombs to destroy civilian targets. Destroying buildings and infrastructure without putting infantry on the ground will not work. Russia’s own history in the “Great Patriotic War” 1941-1945 showed that.

The mentality that corruptly siphons off billions from the finances of the Russian state, crippling healthcare, transport infrastructure and even military projects, but then spends that corrupt money on ostentatious projects like the luxurious “Putin’s Palace”, huge mansions and massive yachts, is totally materialistic. They see a city or a country as defined by its buildings, not by its people, traditions and their unwavering spirit.

The Nazis dropped 12,000 metric tonnes of bombs on London and 24,000 tonnes on Britain as a whole. They also used the first cruise missiles, the V1 and V2. Cities were very badly damaged but people emerged and carried on with their lives. Children even played on bomb sites and collected shrapnel as souvenirs!

In Russia in World War II, the Nazis bombed and shelled cities. Stalingrad was reduced largely to rubble, but its underground basements and shelters meant invaders were drawn into protracted and very costly battles where the defending infantry were more effective. In the Stalingrad siege by Nazi Axis forces, the invaders lost 850,000 men, killed, wounded or taken prisoner and the siege failed.

A recent leaked report from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB – formerly the KGB) said of the current invasion: “Even with minimal resistance from the Ukrainians we’d need 500,000 people, including supply and logistic workers” to control the Ukraine. Others have estimated over a million. Former allies within Ukraine have now turned against the Russians. Even formerly pro-Russian political parties are refusing to work with Russian troops in the few captured Ukrainian towns.

Bedevilled by corruption, poor organisation and equipment (one of the largest oil producers in the world is short of fuel for tanks and military vehicles!), Russian troops have understandably low morale. They are faced with an enemy which is more adroit and agile, fighting to defend its own country; they face an uphill battle.

Russia is further seriously undermined both by severe sanctions and by the much more effective propaganda and public relations of the Ukraine government.

The failure of Vladimir Putin to learn from Russian history could be fatal.


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