A desperate Vladimir Putin is a dangerous Vladimir Putin, and there are signs Putin’s situation in Ukraine may be becoming desperate.
In the last week, the Russian army in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine was driven out of some 2,200 square miles of territory, according to the Ukrainians, whose soldiers are now two miles from the Russian border.
The Kharkiv battle was a rout for the surprised Russians who tore off their uniforms, threw down their weapons and fled, some on stolen bicycles. For Russia, it was the worst defeat of the war.
That Moscow sustained a stunning setback is attested to by the news that Russian nationalists back home have begun to grumble openly about Putin’s management of the war he launched on Feb. 24.
Where does Putin stand now?
He is in the seventh month of a war he launched last winter, and he appears to be headed into this coming winter with no victory and no end to the war in sight.
His early offensives, while successful north of Crimea and in the Donbas, failed to capture Kiev, Kharkiv or Odessa on the Black Sea, Ukraine’s three largest cities, which were Russia’s strategic objectives.
Putin’s gains in the Donbas are the one