More Concerned With Political Than Military Risks, Putin Likely To Intensify His Attack On Ukraine – OpEd


Vladimir Putin faces a choice between a war of attrition which minimizes military risks but increases political ones and an expanded war which increases military risks but minimizes political ones, Vladimir Pastukhov. But because he is more concerned about the political ones, he is likely to choose the latter.

Stressing that he is no military analyst, the London-based Russian lawyer and scholar says that he believes that Putin will make this decision intuitively and display in this case the same tendency toward the irrational rather than the rational (

Pastukhov says that his many years of experience as a lawyer suggests that when people are facing a dead end, one from which there is either no way out or none that is obvious, they divide into two different groups, depending on the nature of their courage, the “desperate” or the “calculated.

Those who have “desperate” courage, he says, tend to go on a rampage and ignore the threats, while those with the “calculated” kind freeze and wait for an opportunity to be presented to them. Either kind may lead to victory, or alternatively, it may lead to defeat.

Putin, Pastukhov argues, is “a man of desperate rather than calculated courage; and under conditions of increasing stress, he will be tempted to solve the problem he faces ina  single blow rather than relying on the playing out of fate. Consequently, even a narrowly tactical successin the Donbass with stimulate this courage.”

And that means this: he is likely to expand his aggression in Ukraine even though “the overall risks of a strategic military offensive this winter are much higher than those the Kremlin would deem acceptable” if a rational assessment were in fact made there.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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