One of the more costly battles that occurred during the Viet Nam War was not fought in the dense jungles, but one in the ancient city of Hue, 1968. The pitched battles killed over two hundred members of the Marine Corps, and hundreds of native soldiers on both sides. It was, and it still is, a lesson to be learned about fighting in an urban environment.
Putin had to win this fight in less than a month, and now it’s clear that no matter what he does, or how he does it, the Ukraine will not be subdued, and it will not be productive in the sense he likely planned. Barring this, Putin may try to do as much damage as possible, but even that will backfire in the end.
Right now, Putin is losing the war. He likely thought NATO would either sit it out entirely, or start a broader conflict, and either would have served him. If NATO sat it out, Putin would have an easier time fighting the war. If NATO got involved, Putin could have sold the war to the Russian people as a defensive measure to protect the Motherland.
As it turned out, NATO, and America, have been giving the Ukrainians anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, and even at this late date, Russia cannot seem to maintain air superiority. Tanks are exploding on video clips, and back home, Putin is arresting five thousand protestors a day. If Putin leaves, he will be humiliated in front of the whole world. If he stays, he runs the risk of his own personal Viet Nam war, with no end in sight, and partisan attacks on Russian military personnel.
But it is even worse than it appears.
If Putin does manage to maul the Ukraine, and then leaves, NATO will most certainly help Ukraine rebuild, and everyone in the country will hate the Russians. Putin will have managed to give NATO an excuse to become closer to the Ukrainians, and the Ukrainian people will devote themselves to anyone who is an enemy of their enemy.
Putin has managed to create a food shortage in Europe, and it is planting time. With Ukraine out of business for a long time to come, food prices in Russia will rise, people will be hungry, and Putin will be blamed. The best source of food would have been the United States, but that country is having their own supply chain issues, and not inclined to help Putin.
In the end, Putin’s dream of a Greater Russia has died in the side streets and air in the Ukraine. Mauled politically by this, those who seek power, his power, Putin’s ability to raise the will of those around him to do expensive projects will be well diminished. We may well see the fall of Vladimir Putin, perhaps the last Russian dictator.