Putin is losing. He cannot accomplish any military goals in Ukraine. Simple as that. Even when his army was fresh, well-equipped, and composed almost entirely of well-trained(compared front-line soldiers fighting for Russia now) professionals, he failed to penetrate to Kyiv, so outmatched was he by Ukrainian forces with far superior training and leadership. There are many column-inches that can be devoted to this single topic, so I will just summarize: Putin was never winning. He conducts combat operations in Ukraine with forces as exhausted, low in morale, poorly equipped, poorly trained, poorly led, and as poorly supplied as any there have ever been. They are well aware that the role of new soldiers on the battlefield is to get killed, for the sole purpose of revealing Ukrainian firing positions to Russian artillery teams.
While Putin cannot win, he is not yet defeated. He has one last trick up his sleeve. He has shifted his focus largely from military achievement to terrorism, and has stepped up the rhetoric about the use of tactical nuclear weapons. The latter component of his strategy is to frighten the West into forcing Ukraine to accept Putin's current occupied positions in five Ukrainian oblasts(Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and Crimea) so he can stand down from his unsustainable military commitment, re-establish commercial goodwill with Europe and get the money flowing again, and regroup his forces for another push sometime in the future. To aid in this, honorless American media personalities like Gutfeld
, and Ingraham
have been carrying water for him since before day 1, and have been steadily turning the war into a Republican-versus-Democrat issue.
Putin's levers of influence in American politics are connected to the Republican Party, and hard-right extremist channels. As such, it's difficult to estimate how these entities would behave without his influence. Using these levers, Putin is arguably highly culpable for the level of political division in this country, through his influence on right-wing officials and media. But the point is that he has tremendous influence on them, and he is using it to try to sell appeasement to the West as peace.
Most people in the US and elsewhere are of the opinion that a Russian nuclear strike would equate to and diplomatically require a retaliatory nuclear strike from the US, NATO, or some other Western country, with the strikes escalating to the point of the effective end of modern civilization as we know it. This opinion doesn't account for two very important things. First, nobody in a position to make decisions like that for Russia or the West thinks that robotically, or that fatally. If a nuclear strike is executed against them, they know that a nuclear response will just prompt further escalation. They know this, so their policy is not to end civilization if a strike occurs. Second, and most importantly, the world isn't fully aware of the gargantuan imbalance of military power between NATO and Russia. The world has never known a military force with even a fraction of the might of NATO. If Russia executed a nuclear strike anywhere in the world, NATO would eradicate Russia's military within days, starting with its nuclear capabilities, within minutes.
Putin and all of his inner circle are well-aware of this. But they also know that most people are not. So Putin can use fear on the world stage, and terrorism in Ukraine, to try to break the will of the West to continue to support Ukraine. I support peace. But there can be no peace with Putin.