How Putin is drawing the world at the most dangerous time in its history

Expert perspectives – Putin is engrossed in the conquest and occupation of Ukraine, an enemy; That is the situation he has been trying to avoid for the last two decades. Westerners must avoid ‘mission creep’ despite Ukraine’s ordeal. Putin’s fate could be sealed, but his departure could be one of the most dangerous in world history.

One of the pitfalls of President Putin’s current campaign in Ukraine is that he mistakenly saw the mission creep that he saw with caution in the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. From the earliest stages of the Chechen war in 1999-2000, all of his work has been directed toward Western education. Wherever possible he has engaged in hybrid warfare; Such as the use of proxies in Donbass and Georgia and the ‘frozen conflict’, cyber attacks and confusion, and mercenaries in Africa (Wagner Group). Even when he used conventional forces, he planned quick and relatively light intervention with the clear goal of uniting Crimea and rescuing Syrian President Assad.

To plan the current Ukraine operation, he appears to have planned a two-stage operation. The mobilization of troops along the Ukrainian border could have two effects (he can count). The Ukrainians may be intimidated enough to sue for peace or to overthrow the Zelensky government. In addition, the West may agree to permanently exclude Ukraine from both the EU and NATO. On the other hand, some of Putin’s demands (such as his return to NATO before 1997) seem to be rejected.

Thus, the attack was always the result of his choice. However, he clearly expected a different kind of attack that happened; The triumphant drive to Kyiv with a cheering population on the streets (like the Unsclass of 1938) may not be, but it is more reminiscent of the 3-day invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 which was not welcomed with flowers but at least was quite unrivaled. Thus, he did not see the need for heavy bombardment or shelling in Kiev before he came to town and established a puppet government.

In a typical world, Russian troops would then withdraw from Ukraine, or at least from public view, as they did after a brief and successful operation in January to oust the Tokayev government in Kazakhstan. Ukraine would then become the second Belarus to be ruled by a loyal government, dependent on Russian support but far from Moscow.

The worst situation in Ukraine has yet to emerge after a phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin, French officials warned this week.

Subscribers + members can make an assessment of how a worse situation could be made worse by a part of the former Ukraine and Robert Danenberg, a cipher brief expert and former head of the CIA’s Central Eurasia division. Upgrade your access today.

The strength of Ukraine’s opposition to the attack and the speed and unity of the Western response have certainly come as a huge blow to Putin. And here comes the critical moment of Mission Creep. He could not abandon the attack on himself but doubled-down with the coercive operation that worked for him in Chechnya in 1999, but in very different and much less visible circumstances.

The strength and power of the Russian army will certainly conquer most of Ukraine in the next few weeks, but it will be brutal and ugly. The Russian army and security services would then be drawn into an occupation supervision. Even assuming that anti-Lukashenko protests in Belarus do not resume (and anti-Putin protests in Moscow do not get out of control), Ukraine’s annexation would be a huge task. Putin, who returned to Russia with a weak domestic economy and a body bag, will be at greater risk than at any other time in his 22-year rule.

But the situation is also dangerous for the West. The dangers of mission creep will be substantial, given the growing popularity and human rights pressures for more active solidarity with the people of Ukraine. How much more of a “no-fly zone” would be if British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s remarks could prompt Putin to warn about his nuclear program? As Putin weakens, we can expect more nuclear threats, and we can remind him of his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Putin could even present himself as one of the re-supplies of equipment and ammunition for Ukrainian fighters across the Polish border. War casualties.

A cornered and condemned Putin could lead out of NATO attacks in the hope of provoking a response. The position of the three Baltic states is particularly striking in this context; Lithuania in particular is close to the Kaliningrad enclave and Estonia is its risky city of Narva.

Nick Fishwick, a cipher briefing expert and former senior member of the British Foreign Office

It is difficult to conclude that this story could be Putin’s end. But his last years can be protracted and dangerous. Analysts have been predicting the fall of Robert Mugabe for almost two decades and his successor is somewhat better. Those who have the ability to challenge Putin are no better than him; Rosneft’s Igor Sechin or another Siloviki (former security guard) or perhaps the current leadership of the FSB, which is on the verge of losing money from a collapsed economy. Even the brave Alexei Navalny is far from being a democratic leader in the Jelensky mold.

After all, the most troubling aspect of this whole incident is Putin’s psychological isolation. The public humiliation of his Head of Foreign Intelligence (SVR) on television is a cool moment, showing that his humiliation is reserved not only for the weak Western leaders but also for his own advisers. His departure from the world stage could be one of the most dangerous times in the history of the world.

Around the world, Putin will need a way out from Richard B. Faden, a former national security adviser to the Canadian prime minister, only in The Cipher Brief.

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