Monday, September 12, 2022

Russia has Never Lost a Defensive War But Rarely Won an Aggressive One, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 31 – Some Western analysts have been so impressed by past Russian victories that they argue that it cannot lose in Ukraine, Vladislav Inozemtsev says; but their argument is faulty because they fail to distinguish Russia’s victories in defensive wars and its defeats in aggressive ones.

            It is true, the Russian economist and commentator says, that “Russia has not suffered defeat from any European state” when it was fighting a war of defense and could mobilize the population to pay almost any price to defeat the invader. But it has typically lost when it has engaged in an aggressive war of conquest.

            And thus the argument of those who say Russia can’t lose and Ukraine can’t win are based on a misperception, he says (; in Russian and Ukrainian at

“The only example of successful wars which Russia has conducted beyond its territory over the last 200 years have been the Russian-Turkish clashes in which Russia has won almost constantly since the end of the 18th century,” Inozemtsev says. But in all others, it has suffered defeat in such wars of conquest unless it was part of a broader alliance.


In wars of conquest where it did not have allies, “Russians as a rule lose” because “in the majority of cases they did not mobilize for the seizure of foreign territories as they have done every time when they were defending their own land,” the commentator continues.


In the current case, Ukraine is able to mobilize because it is defending its territory while Russia is not. Thus, Ukraine is operating with a clear advantage and Russia at a disadvantage, precisely because its goal is the driving out of its territory the forces of a country that has sought to seize it.


“Having transformed itself from a defending country which the Soviet Union was at the time of World War II into an imperialist state which is attempting to destroy a free and brave sovereign people, Russia has entered a path which will lead it to almost inevitable military defeat, and no one should be trying to convince it or its audience of the opposite.”


Of course, it will be pointed out that there is one factor which makes the situation different, Inozemtsev says. Russia has nuclear weapons and Ukraine doesn’t. But it is unlikely that Russia would use them because if it does, it will become a permanent outcast as far as the rest of the world is concerned.


He thus says that it is his conviction that “the most important and completely achievable goal of Western countries must be not the search for arguments which confirm the military supremacy of Russia but the search for the most effective means of its destruction. The Russian horde can and must be destroyed and suffer a military defeat on the territory of Ukraine.”


Consequently, however “paradoxical” it may seem, “any efforts of the West which promote the military defeat of the Kremlin in this war will be useful to the West, to Ukraine, and even to Russia.”


Western analysts should stop drawing false analogies between Putin’s war in Ukraine and Russia’s victories in defensive war and instead remember two things. On the one hand, Russia has usually lote when it engaged in aggressive and imperialist wars of conquest. And on the other, it has seen improvements at home only when it lost abroad.

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