Regardless Of Outcome In Ukraine, Russia Has Suffered Geopolitical Defeat – OpEd


“The main result of the last year,” Vladimir Pastukhov says, “is the geopolitical defeat of Russia. Putin has already lost the war.” And more than that, “his defat already is creating the preconditions for global changes in the world order, but hardly in the direction he counted on.”

“This will be a world order in which Russia in the best case will be given a place in the second tier of partners and in which it will be seen by a large part of world leaders as an observer … That would be a good outcome,” and “the Kremlin elites have done all this with their own hands” (

This defeat, he continues, will remain in place regardless of what happens in Ukraine.” As history shows, a war can be lost long before the final battle. That was true of Germany in World War II; and it is true of Russia today.” Hitler lost when the international community united against him; and Putin has lost for the same reason.

In an important way, Putin’s war in Ukraine is “special.” Its end came at its beginning when “in his ‘great dispute’ with the West, he was the first to blink and ‘plunge’ Russia into ‘a major war,’” something that all Russian despots have sought to avoid because none has “gone unpunished” for violating that rule.”

According to Pastukhov, “there is no reason to believe that history will make an exception for Putin.”

And because that is the case, “the success or failure of his military campaign in Ukraine will not play a fundamental role” in determining what follows. “This is a resource war and not with Ukraine. A defeat in Ukraine will speed up the finale and a victory will delay it a little but not change the essence of the matter. The deed is done.”

There is of course the risk of a nuclear apocalypse, the London-based Russian analyst says; but it would likely destroy everyone and “if someone does survive, then in that destroyed world, Russia will be on the losing side” – and “if no one survives, then she will be assigned the blame at the Last Judgment.” Despite what Putin thinks, “joking with paradise won’t work.”

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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