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Putin might win in Ukraine, Europe needs defence plan – The Economist

Thursday, 30 November 2023, 23:30
Putin might win in Ukraine, Europe needs defence plan – The Economist
photo: Agnew\Getty Images\Eyevine

The Economist has examined Putin's chances of winning the war and says the West is not doing enough to stop him because it lacks a strategic vision.

Source: The Economist

Details: According to the magazine, the fact that neither side can drive the other out of the areas they control is what makes Putin's victory in the conflict possible. Ukraine’s counteroffensive is faltering. Russia loses more than 900 soldiers in the battles in Avdiivka every day, and these engagements can be considered a "defenders’ war" that will last for many years.


Quote: "The West could do a lot more to frustrate Mr Putin. If it chose, it could deploy industrial and financial resources that dwarf Russia’s. However, fatalism, complacency and a shocking lack of strategic vision are getting in the way, especially in Europe. For its own sake as well as Ukraine’s, the West urgently needs to shake off its lethargy."

Details: Russia benefits from foreign assistance, as evidenced by the drones it receives from Iran and the shells it receives from North Korea; additionally, Türkiye and Kazakhstan serve as conduits for supplies that feed the Russian military apparatus. The Western plan to restrict Russian oil earnings has also been ineffective.

The Economist claims that people in Russia are accustomed to war: Putin can afford to give the families of those who are dying in battle a lifetime salary, and the so-called elite has tightened control over the country's economy.

Quote: "Faced with all this, no wonder the mood in Kyiv is darker. Politics has returned, as people jostle for influence. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s president, and Valery Zaluzhnyi, its most senior general, have fallen out. Internal polling suggests that corruption scandals and worries about Ukraine’s future have dented Mr Zelenskyy’s standing with voters."

Details: The Economist also notes that "if Donald Trump is elected president, having promised peace in short order, America could suddenly stop supplying weapons altogether." Nevertheless, Europe needs to get ready for a drop in US aid, regardless of who will be elected president.

The publication adds that it is pointless to simply hope that Putin's regime will fall because of inflation, army spending and forced mobilisation, because Putin "could remain in power for years."

"Europe must, therefore, plan for Mr Putin as the main long-term threat to its security. Russia will rearm. It will have combat experience. Planning for Europe’s defence should be designed to prevent Mr Putin from sensing weakness on its flank—especially if he doubts a President Trump’s willingness to fight should a NATO country be attacked."

Taking this into account, Europe's best chance of deterring Putin is by demonstrating its resolve by arming Ukraine with air defence and long-range missiles capable of striking Russian supply routes.

The writers claim that aside from that, Putin appears capable of winning for the first time since 24 February 2022, and that Europe's lack of a clear strategic direction is his greatest advantage.

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