What now Putin

It’s not exactly going well for Russian forces in Ukraine according to experts. Russia has lost more than 4,300 troops, more than 200 tanks, both in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Russian armed forces, almost three times the Ukrainian army, thought with access to more advanced weapons systems would result in a swift, relatively painless invasion. However, Ukrainian forces, volunteer men and women, have mounted a strikingly successful resistance against Russian forces.

Equipped with amongst the most advanced technological warfare and equipment, Russia is struggling to take complete control.

It appears Russia is losing what they expected of their campaign and may even lose this war. Ukraine on the other hand is led by a young, social media savvy president, who has been transparent with intelligence sharing and proved to be a major stumbling block to Kremlin’s disinformation spin.

On the other hand, Moscow has been met with international outrage, with the European Union, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow. Already these sanctions are showing in the streets of major Russian cities.

According to UN figures, hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands injured in Ukraine since the start of the war. Ukrainian authorities, however, put the death toll at over 2,000. Plus more than a million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, the UN Refugee Agency said.

The conflict is also markedly different than other recent conflicts, such as those in Syria or Afghanistan. Despite the disparities between Russian and Ukrainian forces, it’s still a war between two formal militaries.

Ukraine’s countrywide mobilization adds an additional element, with many civilians picking up weapons, learning to make Molotov cocktails, or simply confronting tanks in the road. It appears Putin has wildly miscalculated and had, frankly, a bad plan of thinking how quickly the Ukrainian military would collapse, and is still trying to avoid using major air strikes and other weapon systems.

Russia is now engaged in a war it cannot win. No matter how events play out on the battlefield, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine might turn out to be a strategic disaster for Russia.

Even if Russian forces take Kyiv or destroy Ukraine militarily, such tactical victories on the battlefield will do little to help Russia govern Ukraine. Politically, Ukraine is lost for Russia. Potential military success won’t make this any less of a political disaster for Russia. It is not just the military resistance to Russian forces that should worry Putin; just as significant are the peaceful protests that are playing out in small towns “seized” by Russian forces.

It is very hard to see how a pro-Russian puppet regime will govern the country. Any installed regime will need the support of a massive security apparatus to terrify the population, arrest dissidents, and brutally suppress any insurgency.

There is little doubt that Putin would be willing to proceed down this path. But it is difficult to see how he can do so practically. The military force sent to invade Ukraine might be large enough to take the country, but it is not large enough to govern it.