Friday Firesmith – Putin’s Problem

Putin’s biggest problem is he is losing a war that was supposed to be a cake walk. Then again, both sides in the American Civil War thought the conflict would last a month or so, and both sides were convinced they would win. Four years and 600,000 dead soldiers later, the war did end, but no one was happy about how it was fought, or what it cost. There’s a lesson here.  

Here’s Putin’s Problem: He’s losing a conventional war. He cannot afford to escalate the conflict to the point other nations night join in, because even against the smaller and less powerful Ukrainian military, Russia is suffering catastrophic losses. His calling up more troops has led to an exodus of men of military age from Russia.  Putin’s citizens do not have the will to keep fighting this war, and he knows it. 

But no one wins a nuclear war, and Putin has to see the truth in this as well. Even if, and this is the biggest if you will ever see in print, the use of nukes doesn’t wind up wiping out all life on this planet, it will leave deep and red hot scars on where they are used. If Ukraine gets nuked, Putin can bet the Ukrainian people will hate him for generations, and their war with him will never end. You can look for a world wide grain shortages even in the best case here. 

There’s a subarine gap in the Russian navy. From 1989 to somewhere around the year 2012, the American navy was still in the game, and still building and upgrading their sub fleet. Russia got behind, and they aren’t up to speed even now. The quieter and deadly attack subs the Americans have stalking the Russian missile sub fleet is going to extract a terrible price in the first moments of a nuclear war. If America goes after Russian submarines, it will be ruinous for Putin. 

Look for the Americans to strike not at political targets in Russia, but at oil fields, dams, bridges, and military airfields. Don’t discount the idea NATO might drive deep into Russia, and the Russian military might welcome them if Putin drops a nuke. 

Then again, you have one nuke, then another, and then two or three more, all sorts of hell breaking loose, and suddenly it’s the day after a nukefest, and no one is left with a country worth trying to save. 

At the end of the day, Putin just might be bluffing, hoping that the rest of the world fears a nuclear holocaust far more than they care about Ukraine. But this is a desperate gamble, and with Russia losing territory to a military it thought it could crush, and its men running for the border, Putin may have no other cards to play. 

Putin might do well to remember while he is trying to hold things together, there may be someone, or a group, who would like to see him fail, and then remove him. 

But the war is lost, and has been for quite some time. What else Putin loses in the process will be interesting, to say the least. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

18 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Putin’s Problem”

  1. Wars have a tendency to be underestimated before they’re started.
    The First World War was started with a sentiment of “We’ll be home by Christmas” – on both sides.
    The (latest) War in Afghanistan and also the one in Iraq was started with the idea of “we go in, smash ’em, and then we’ve won. Well, “Mission Accomplished” looks a bit different for me…

    Even Russia had its share of these wars: the Russo-Japanese war of 1904/05 was started by the Russions with the expectation, that it would be a “short victorious war”. Well, “short” might be discussed (“only” 18 months or so), but victorious it surely wasn’t.

    • Engywuck, what you say is entirely true. It is rare for a war to end quickly, and rarer still for the consequences to be short. The consequences of Putin’s War are not yet clear, but I’m pretty sure no one will be happy at the end.

  2. I’ve heard the term “rational actor” used to describe Putin. Not entirely sure that’s the case. He has a lot to lose if he loses this war and a trapped rat is more dangerous. Not sure if nuclear fallout has him concerned as the winds tend to blow into Russia, but unless he finds a way to either win or exit and save face, I’m of the belief all options are on the table for him.

    • CAI, surely there is at least one or two people who have to go along with pushing the button here. As bad as losing the war in Ukraine might be, tossing nukes around ins’t going to win the war, and as desperate as Putin is, you would think there is some sort of balance of power somewhere. Right? Right?

      • Hard for me to say. I don’t have the intel available to know what he may or may not do. I believe he’s desperate. I don’t know what secrets were given to him that may benefit or deter his plans or alter his thinking. I do believe he’s using the fact that the average person doesn’t have the same info to his benefit. Scaring the general public in hopes of persuading them to coerce their own government to stop helping Ukraine is something out of his playbook. But then again, he has a lot more to lose of he loses this war and the idea of losing power makes evil people do evil things. I’m not going to say he’s totally bluffing, but I don’t think the chances are 50/50 as much as they are 20/80, maybe better, that he won’t.

        Are there internal safeguards to prevent a single megalomaniac from sending nukes? I like to think so as reports have many of his people aren’t in agreement with him so far. I’m not going to pretend I have absolute authoritative knowledge of his mental state nor his inner circle. I can say I don’t believe he’ll sends nukes across the ocean. Nothing is 100% certain when it comes to war. Decisions are made for different reasons and history is left to guess why. Is he willing to destroy his country in order to not lose power with a loss? *shrugs* Maybe. Maybe not. Crazy people do crazy things.

  3. Putin is holding on the best he can for 2 more years until he can get trump elected to hand him the Ukraine.

  4. It’s hard to care when two corrupt countries are at war with each other.

    The only silver lining about nuclear war is that there is not enough nuclear weapons to wipe out the entire world. Not a cheery silver lining, though–especially the closer you are to a blast zone. Or downwind from it.

  5. Russia = 5,977 nuclear warheads + 1,588 missiles deployed (loaded & cocked)
    USA = 5,428 nuclear warheads + 1,644 missiles deployed (loaded & cocked)
    Badda Boom… Big Badda Boom!

  6. CAI, you look at what Hitler was willing to allow in order to hold onto power, knowing the end was certain, and it’s easy to think Putin would nuke half of Europe. At the same time, those around him have to know they’re dead men if they do, win or lose, someone will come for them one day. Damn, Europe is a big mess when it’s a mess.

  7. Bruce, I wonder if this was not all scheduled to happen but Biden’s election threw it all off. Now, with the next election more uncertain than ever, Putin has to guess as to who will be in office, and if they’ll be hostile to the dream of Greater Russia.

  8. Richard, that’s not far fetched, and it is a time honored way of ending wars. He could simply declare victory and walk away. But he’s nothing to show for a lot of money spent and many, many dead Russians. He also had an expanded NATO at his doorstep, with Ukraine now being the darling of Europe, having beaten the Russian army.

  9. This is just my opinion, I don’t believe anyone ever really wins a war. The cost to the citizens winds up being devastating. The soldiers come back broken, shattered and usually unable to deal with the nightmare they’ve lived through. The families they come back to try to deal with the aftermath the best they can, and mostly are ignored by the government, the VA, and anyone else who is supposed the be there for support. At least in the US.

    The country the war was held in is usually devastated and takes years to recover. It is traumatic all the way around. I feel if these leaders can’t figure out a way to work it out, they need to try harder. This war shit needs to stop. Call me whatever you like. The only people profiting from war are munitions factories and arms manufacturers. We know they need the money.

  10. other countries have a stockpile that’s at least a magnitude smaller. But even the 200-350 nukes or so the chinese, french and british are said to each have are more than enough to ruin your day.
    Even a “limited” nuclear war has world-wide consequences: when such a war was simulated between India and Pakistan, even the assumption that “only” 50 nukes each with “only” 15 Kilotons would effectively destroy the ozone layer and trigger at least five years of famine *worldwide*.
    (Link: see “website” in my comment)

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