As I watch events unfold as Russia invades Ukraine, several factors are becoming more apparent.
The first is that the Russian military is both large and incompetent. Its soldiers lack motivation and patriotism. Its logistics are not up to the challenges of an invasion. And Vladimir Putin hopelessly underestimated the will of the Ukrainian government and people to resist his offensive.
Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, who is only 44 years old, has shown remarkable courage and determination. He has aroused patriotism and bravery in his people as they fight back against the Russians. This improbable leader, a comedian by profession, is risking his life by heading the government and nation fighting Putin. If he survives—and the chances are not encouraging—he will undoubtedly head the government-in-exile that will continue to defy Russian assaults on his homeland with guerrilla warfare.
Ukraine will not win this war on the battlefield. The Russian force, for all its ineptitude, is too large and too well-armed for its tiny neighbor to repel. But Ukraine will not surrender. It will continue to harass the conquering Russian forces with an insurrection that will deprive Russia of peace. And I believe that in the end, though that may be far into the future, Ukraine will exhaust the Russians, who will, like the Americans in Vietnam, finally quit and go home.
Meanwhile, Russia’s standing in the world is so damaged by Putin’s action against Ukraine that it will not recover during my lifetime. In the final reckoning, the invasion will hurt Russia far more than it will help it.
Putin will go down in history as the dictator who undermined Russia.