Why Is Putin at War Again? Because He Keeps Winning.
The NYT says There is no world leader today with a better track record when it comes to using military power than President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Whether against Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014 or in Syria since 2015, the Russian military has repeatedly converted battlefield successes into political victories. Russia’s rearmament over the past decade and a half has been unmatched by a comparable increase in Western capabilities. So it is no surprise why Russia feels emboldened to use its military power while the West stands by.
Russia’s past three wars are textbook examples of how to use military force in limited ways to achieve political goals. The invasion of Georgia in 2008 lasted five days but forced that country into humiliating political concessions. In Ukraine in 2014, regular Russian military units were deployed at scale for a few weeks, but this proved enough to force Kyiv to sign a painful peace deal. When Russia intervened in Syria in 2015, some Western analysts predicted a disaster along the lines of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which began in 1979 and ended, after a decade of quagmire, in retreat. Instead, Syria’s civil war served as a testing ground for Russia’s most advanced weaponry.
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