Putin may have overplayed his hand by invading Ukraine

Putin may have overplayed his hand by invading Ukraine. By Rebecca Rosenberg.

President Vladimir Putin may have overplayed his hand by invading Ukraine as opposition to the war grows in Russia, experts told Fox News Digital.

“This is a massive miscalculation,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Yoshiko Herrera, who is an expert on U.S-Russian relations. …

More than 1,700 demonstrators in Russia protesting the unprovoked attack on Ukraine have been arrested, according to OVD Info, a Russian human rights organization.

The demonstrations are especially noteworthy in a country that fiercely suppresses dissent, Herrera said. …

 

Putin’s approval rating stood at 69% in January, but that number is misleading given that he has constrained alternative political choices, she said.

Historically, Russia and Ukraine don’t have a level of hostility that would justify this violent incursion. Ukraine has elected pro-Russian leaders, and the two countries consider themselves more like brothers than enemies, Herrera said.

“There is a lot of interethnic hospitality,” the scholar explained. “Images of Ukrainian families, Ukrainians being killed, your average Russian family is not going to be okay with that.” …

A fight between friendly nations, almost a civil war:

Putin has said he does not want to occupy Ukraine but “demilitarize” it. The autocratic leader is uncomfortable bordering a democratic, Slavic nation that looks to the west and not Moscow, said Valery Dzutsati, an assistant professor at the University of Kansas and an expert on Russia.

There is also a large segment of the Russian population that is nostalgic for the USSR and will celebrate bringing Ukraine back into the fold of the Motherland — if it is done swiftly and with limited bloodshed, Dzutsati predicted. …

He added the only way for Putin to control Ukraine, a country of 40 million, is through “massive, Stalinesque repression.”

“If Putin fails, if he is forced to retreat, then he is finished,” Dzutsati predicted. “He will be deposed very quickly.”

The key is the level of Russian casualties. If there are too many dead Russian soldiers, particularly conscripts, then the war becomes very unpopular in Russia. If the fight drags on and casualties pile up, then the invasion looks less like a political fate-accompli and more like a nasty fight between brothers. The Russian military, historically, has always been modestly inept, relied on numerical advantage, and tolerated high casualties. Putin could lose this yet.