Putin’s gamble failing badly

Putin’s gamble failing badly. By Jim Dunnigan.

Less military:

Russia found that their armed forces were far less effective than they and other nations believed….

The Russian military was revealed to be ridden with corruption, poor leadership and a government that underestimated how serious those known problems were. Ukraine was the first widespread and intensive heavy use of Russian weapons by Russian troops since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Many of the Ukrainian weapons were similar or even identical to those used by Russia but Ukrainians were more motivated and better prepared for combat than the Russian invaders. Another embarrassing revelation was that the Western weapons Ukrainians used heavily, especially portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, were far more effective than the Russians expected. …

Less economy:

Foreign trade accounts for about 28 percent of Russian GDP and about half of it has been disrupted by the 2022 sanctions. China is Russia’s largest trading partner and, together with Belarus and a few other nations, continues to trade with Russia. The other half is currently halted by the sanctions with major problems for the Russian economy.

All this degrades future Russian economic prospects. That has a negative impact on Russian allies. These foreign supporters now see their powerful patron as less powerful than believed and now feel desperate or simply afraid. …

Less respect:

China has territorial claims on Russia on or near the Pacific coast. Japan has a dispute with Russia over the ownership of some Pacific Coast islands that Russia took at the end of World War II. Until recently Japan was rather timid in its requests to Russia about these islands. Once it became clear how poorly Russia was doing in Ukraine, Japan has become more open and aggressive about the island dispute and Russian efforts to keep Japanese fishing boats out of areas they have long worked in.

China would be different:

China has, since the 1990s modernized and expanded its armed forces to the point where on paper China has stronger ground, air and naval forces than Russia. Chinese forces have not been in combat since the 1970s and back then found the less numerous but more experienced and motivated Vietnamese surprisingly effective. …

Massive sanctions on China would be another matter because China is now the largest trading nation in the world, followed by the U.S. and Germany. These three nations are the only ones with trade exceeding a trillion dollars. Russia was 19th before the sanctions and with the sanctions will be fortunate to remain in the top 30 nations. If China did face the degree of sanctions Russia received, the results would be catastrophic because while the Chinese economy is much larger than Russia’s, it is much more sensitive to major disruptions.

There are also strong rumors of huge morale problems among the Russian troops in Ukraine. It’s hard to see Putin coming out of this with any sort of face-saving “win.”