Even if Russia Captures Kyiv, Putin has Already Been Defeated After Starting Unwinnable War

Photograph Source: Leonhard Lenz – CC0 1.0

Russian tanks and artillery are deploying to attack Kyiv and Kharkiv, but, even if they succeed in capturing the cities, this will not alter the fact that Russia has already been defeated in the war in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin started a war he could never win against 44 million Ukrainians supported by the US and Europe in the crazed expectation that his military campaign would be a walkover. By doing so, he united the rest of Europe against Russia, forcing Germany, France and Italy to line up with the more hardline US and Britain to a degree not seen even at the height of the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

But the nature and timing of the Russian defeat remains of crucial importance because Russia remains a nuclear weapons superpower, technically able to kill a large part of the planet’s population. If the war in Ukraine continues for a long time, it is all too easy to see how the Russian war in Ukraine could escalate into a conventional conflict against Nato and then tip into a nuclear exchange.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso).