When Vladimir Putin set his sights on Ukraine months before the invasion became reality, nearly nobody thought Russia would still be there three months later. As of May 24th, Putin has hit that mark with no leave date in sight. The Ukrainian people have been surprisingly spritely. While Russian troops were getting positioned along the border for “training exercises,” the rest of the world knew what Putin was doing. The intelligence was widely reported and well known.
Unfortunately for Putin, he only knew what action he was taking, but not what he was doing.
Many Ukrainians attempted to flee the country. Most service-aged men were stopped and asked to stay and fight. Quickly, the requests became law of the land. Those 18-60 would be handed cammies, a rifle, and ammo – it was time to defend the homeland. To say that this ragged team of civilians was ready, willing, and able to fight would be an understatement. While the Ukrainian people have suffered great losses financially, architecturally, and of course in their lives, the fighting resolve they show is tremendous.
This push has inspired other countries like the U.S., England, Poland, and others to help the Ukrainians out. Their contributions of firepower superiority, tracking technology, and advisement have been tremendous, they have stopped short of boots on the ground. This is because of promises made to their people, the length of time the U.S. (and other nations) have been in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the lack of true need to go.
While some battles have made it look like it was all but over for Ukraine, the U.S. and others quickly learned that they have a much stronger resolve than most of us gave them credit for. Stories of the Russian military being stared down by grandmothers trying to give them flower seeds so something good grows from their corpses, and farmers taking tanks that ran out of fuel for their own uses were everywhere. It truly seemed like Russia was going to go down and fast.
Unfortunately, Russia has only been pushed back and largely away from major cities. They are, instead, clinging to land they annexed years ago, and the border region where their initial assault took place. Ukraine isn’t going to let them stay there. They aren’t going to let the Black Sea Fleet blockade the dams for them to get cargo and grain out to the world. Instead, they are taking back their country.
Putin is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Keep sending troops to die for a war started over bogus and ever-changing pretenses or pull out and save some of their strength. For decades, this great Russian military had been respected, even feared around the globe. Despite not having much of a conflict since the fall of the USSR, other nations simply did not want that smoke.
Now, after seeing how easily the Ukrainians have been able to push them back, Putin is looking weak. Given the reports of his health issues, and survived assassination attempts, he needs to keep that tough test going or he’ll lose face on a global scale…or at least in his opinion.
The fact of the matter is, after this is said and done, he’s likely done in Moscow as the leader of Russia. Win or lose, he’ll be out, and soon nothing but a memory in the minds of Russians and people across the globe. He can’t win a legendary tale to leave behind, he can’t win Ukraine, and he can’t win the battle against the growing Russian opposition to being in Ukraine. This was not what he expected when the ground froze over for the tanks to roll in.