Does Putin Understand that Russia Is at War?

This morning Russian media sources reported that a Ukrainian followup attack to the one on the Crimea bridge by 28 drones was defeated by Russian air defenses. In response, Russia destroyed the manufacturing sites of the drones and fuel storage facilities that provide fuel for Ukraine’s military.  The two words, “in response” tells us what is wrong with Putin’s conduct of the war.  Why did it take a Ukrainian attack on Crimea for Russia to do what any other country at war would have done a long time ago—destroy its enemy’s armaments factories and fuel depots? It is as if Russia is not at war. The offensive initiatives are with Ukraine. All Russia does is to retaliate to Ukrainian attacks.

This is a mindless way for the Kremlin to conduct a war. It encourages the US neoconservatives to continue and to widen the conflict. Russia should have shut down Odessa long ago.  It was mindless to leave Ukraine with bases on the Black Sea from which to launch attacks on the Crimea bridge. If Putin was conducting war as war should be conducted, the young girl’s parents would still be alive.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, like the Kremlin and the Defense Ministry, does not seen to comprehend that a war is in process. Russia termed the attack on the bridge a “terror attack.” The bridge is a legitimate military target. It was Putin’s limited operation that allowed Ukraine the resources and naval base with which to attack the bridge. Calling it a terror attack is a pretense that a war is not underway.

Perhaps one day the Russian government will come to its senses and comprehend that a war has too long been underway and make the decision to get it over with. As Prigozhin said, the Russian Ministry of Defense is asking his Wagner troops to die without offering them a prospect of victory.

Putin’s refusal to fight a war is going to cause the Russian people to tire of it. Why is Putin playing so totally into Washington’s hands?

Putin’s refusal to fight has even convinced his Chinese ally that Russia cannot win the conflict with Ukraine. Yesterday China’s UN representative, Geng Shuang, speaking to the UN Security Council wrote off any prospect of a Russian victory: “The evolution of the battlefield situation shows that military means cannot resolve the Ukrainian crisis, and the continuation of the conflict will only bring more suffering to civilians, and may even lead to unpredictable and irreparable situations.” Shuang agrees with me that the never-ending conflict is in danger of “getting out of control.”

It must be extremely embarrassing to Putin, to the Russian military, and to the Russian people to be seen as too weak and irresolute to defeat a third world military force.  The encouragement Putin has given to Washington’s neoconservatives to push ever harder against Russia is leading, as I fear, to a wider conflict that could destroy organized life on earth.


Another Consequence for Putin for Failing to Bring the Conflict to a Close

Putin cannot attend in person a meeting of BRICS without the risk of his arrest.

Paul Craig Roberts is an American economist, author, columnist, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and former editor and columnist for corporate media publications. He is the author of The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Empire of Lies. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.