Feb. 26 – Over the last year, Western leaders have had to give up on many of
the assumptions that they had about Ukraine and Russia, Aleksandr Skobov says.
But they still have yet to recognize that they want two things that can’t take
place simultaneously: Ukraine to win the war without Russia suffering a defeat.
leaders have kept that internally inconsistent agenda because they want to
avoid escalation, the Russian commentator says, but also because they do not
understand either the nature of Putin’s system and how such an approach gives
Putin the chance to continue to blackmail the West by continuing to threaten
“what the target of his blackmail is afraid of” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=63F917EB1834D).
the West understands what the Kremlin leader is about and how he rules Russia,
Putin may be able to come out of this conflict strengthened rather than
weakened at home and even has the chance to keep the conflict going in ways
that could give him partial victories abroad despite the heroism of the
war in Ukraine passes into its second year, Western analytic centers are
increasingly talking about “the real prospect of an extended war, in which at
the beginning almost no one believed. At first, they did not believe that
Ukraine would withstand a hit by foces greater than its own” and would
these centers did not believe that that Russian society, accustomed to a
post-industrial relaxation would prove completely insensitive to the pain of
huge losses in what is clearly not a defensive war,” Skobov says. They did not
and in many cases do not understand that Russians remain indifferent not only
to the pain of others but to their own pain as well.
Many in these
centers and elsewhere still “refuse to recognize the Putin regime as the reincarnation
of Nazism primarily because they do not see in society a real political and
ideological mobilization” like that which existed in Hitler’s Germany. There is
no “genuine mass enthusiasm” but only its “purely” formal and pale “imitation.
however, is the core principle of the way in which Putin has built his system,
Skobov says. “Putin’s post-modern Nazism is Nazism de minimis.” But “that is
what gives it its vitality” because “society is not at all obsessed with a
desire for victory or particulary hurt in the event of failure.”
that combination, the commentator continues, “there is no longer any certainty
that Putin’s regime will start to crumble even after ‘the loss’ of Crimea,
whose acquisition once briefly set the hearts of Russians on fire.” Now, they
may not care all that much about that either.”
“And having turned off both
conscience and the ability to think rationally … we get the same result [in
Putin’s Russia] as in Hitler’s Germany: people with whom the government can
inflict any abomination and whom it can force to commit any abomination.” If
the West refuses to see that this regime must be defeated even if that takes
escalation, the future is grim indeed.
As long as the West believes that
its first operational principle must be to avoid any escalation, “the Nazi dictator
of Russia has the ability to blackmail the world with exactly that” because he
can escalate the conflict at will, something that may not bring military
victories but impose “another psychological victory over the West.”
not be allowed to happen, Skobov says. Ukraine must win and Putin’s Russia must
be defeated. Any other outcome will be a defeat not only for Ukraine but for
the West as a whole.