Strategic Blunder Or Brilliance: Putin’s Game In Russia – OpEd


Amid the ongoing geopolitical tensions, Putin’s action in Ukraine have been the point of global attention, raising the question that either Russian invasion of Ukraine was a strategic brilliant move or blunder. This debate cannot completely neglect one side of the story. Although, Putin’s initial actions proved to be in favor of Russia, the long-term consequences led the nation to pay heavy costs, both domestically and internationally. For instance, economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and declining legitimacy has harmed Russia’s interests to much extent.

Analyzing it from a critical perspective, gives us insight that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a blatant act against the national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international law. According to the UN charter, no state has the right to intervene or use force against any other sovereign state. In the contemporary times, it has become a new normal for states to justify their unethical actions by securitizing the issues. When certain problems are securitized, they create a climate of fear, exacerbate tensions and cause mistrust among the conflicting states. If such practices are continued, a new norm will be established to intervene in other state’s affairs in the name of self defense, causing concerns about the use of Force.

To deeply understand the circumstances, it is important to first analyze Putin’s personality. He possesses a “strong man” attitude. This explains that he holds lack of regret for his unethical actions and stands firmly on his decision. He fails to recognize his irrational behaviour and tend to blame others for his actions. Studies in the organizational psychology shows that such leaders are more task-oriented and are least concerned with the general welfare of the people. These leaders often pose threat to international peace and stability. In context of Russia-Ukraine war, Putin’s actions in Ukraine seems to be more of a strategic blunder, echoing patterns of authoritarian regimes, making catastrophic decisions. Putin viewed war as the only solution to the protection of Russian security and interests, without acknowledging the long-term impacts of war on Russia. It was his misperception and miscalculation that involved Russia in disastrous results. 

The present geopolitical environment, including the western sanctions and the special military operation in Ukraine, has had a major impact on Russia’s economy both in the short and long-term results. The short-term economic indicators have rapidly declined, as investments have slowed, and the economic crisis has worsened. Import embargoes, market closures, and a cut-off from the global banking system are the results of the sanctions, which have put the Russia’s economy in danger. The immediate impacts of the sanctions on the economy saw inflation increase in Russia to 17.9 percent in 2022. According to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2022 was a bad year for the Russian economy. It is estimated that in 2022, Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 2.1%. Russia’s economy continued to shrink in 2023. According to the World Bank and OECD, its GDP forecast declined by 2.5 percent. In addition, the Russia’s economy has been irregularly affected by the exchange rate volatility due to the geopolitical risks and uncertainty over economic policies, making the currency more vulnerable to negative shocks in the near run. The long-term consequences include threat of prolonged stagnation, undermining technical competitiveness and investment. 

Furthermore, Russia has been facing international diplomatic isolation due to its actions in Ukraine. This have undermined Russia’s influence within the international bodies like UN. This marginalizations in global governance and international decision making has weakened Russian position at the global stage. The demographic impact of the invasion on Russia is intense. The war has resulted in a major decline in population, especially male population. In 2022, Russia experienced two large waves of migration. The first occurred in the immediate aftermath of the invasion on February 24, and the second on September 21, when the Russian army announced a partial mobilization of troops. According to most estimates, between 600,000 and 800,000 people left Russia in 2022. Skilled professionals are migrating to other countries for better opportunities and to get rid of war situations. The war has also had a significant toll on Russia’s military, with estimates of 66,000–120,000 personnel killed and 315,000 wounded by the end of 2023. This demographic imbalance can create severe uncertainty, further deteriorating the situation.

The important point to ponder is that whether the war ends or not, it will continue to have lasting impacts on the global politics. Putin’s actions and decisions have pushed Russia in the climate of uncertainty. He holds a very rigid stance on the war, either Russia will win Ukraine, or it will resort to nuclear escalation. This situation seems very alarming and threatening, raising questions about the future of international peace, stability, and order. Following Putin’s strategic blunder, will the Russian elites continue to support him? Will the war end peacefully or the states have to pay the huge costs of war? Will the complex geopolitical environment transition? Will the West continue to play tactics against Russia? All these questions remain an important point of discussion in the contemporary debate. No doubt, Putin’s desires and miscalculated actions have put Russia in a condition, where now, it is facing intense political, economic, social, and psychological problems. His irrational behaviors have paved the way for the global players to align with states and policies which best serve their interests. Hence, Putin’s strategic blunder has led to the downfall of both the state and his own regime.

Anum Maqbool

Anum Maqbool is an undergraduate student of International Relations at National Defence University, Islamabad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *