Putin’s War – cont’d

International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES[1]) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East, the Balkans and around the world. Dr J Scott Younger is a President Commissioner at Glendale Partners and member of IFIMES Advisory Board. In his text entitled “Putin’s War – cont’d “ he continues with his analyse of the war in Ukraine.

 Dr J Scott Younger, International Chancellor of the President University,Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Glasgow University and member of IFIMES Advisory Board

Putin’s War – cont’d


Winter in Ukraine and Russia has brought cold and snow as usual, and the protagonists in this war, started by the Russian president 300 days ago, has altered accordingly. For the past month or so, the Russian belligerents have changed tactics, apart from fierce fighting at the frontline city of Bakhmut, acknowledging they were not making any ground, in fact being pushed back, albeit slowly. Both sides were and still are putting up defences, and meantime, mostly the Russians, are continuing the war from long range. There is a regrouping, especially around Kherson, before another push early next year. It would seem that Putin’s visit to see President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus was to discuss his next moves on Ukraine, possibly with Belarus support. His eyes are also on Moldova with its ethnic Russian population to the east of the country. It is interesting to note that Kazakhstan, part of the former southern Asian states related to Moscow, has turned down a request to give assistance to Russia in its war with Ukraine. 

Vladimir Putin must feel that he has to show some beneficial outcome from the ‘special military operation’ to justify his claim that he is preserving the safety of Russia, the motherland. He used a false claim that Ukraine was in the hands of Nazis, but deep down he wants to regain some of the old USSR of Stalin, his subconscious mentor, around whose household he was when he was brought up. He is dismayed that Russia is seemingly not the powerhouse it was, or appeared to be, some 30+ years ago when the states of Eastern Europe were given their freedom from the Soviet empire, which it could no longer afford, and the USSR reverted to Russia. By the way, when Russia thawed somewhat in its diplomacy and apparently looked at an accommodation with the west, 20 years ago, one wonders if membership of NATO was ever discussed. There would, of course, be no need for the defence Alliance, which was formed after WWII as a riposte to the repression and attitudes of Stalin’s USSR. A fanciful thought! Not possible with the leadership being taken by Putin, turning away from the relaxation of the 1990s, the Yeltsin years.

The older Ukrainians still have memories of 3 million killed through starvation or shot in resistance to displacement in one of Stalin’s purges in his drive to implement the communist state ideals, collectivisation. Previously, the rich agricultural land to the east of Ukraine had been operated by many small farmer/owners, kulaks, who had not been given a choice as Stalin drove on with his communist experiment. They either cooperated and many were forcibly moved to east Russia or, if they resisted strongly, were shot. There was no one to farm the land and great famine ensued. It should be noted that many Ukrainians, still resident or captured in cities or settlements overrun in the early of the war, were transported to east Russia. Will they have the opportunity to be returned in the peace settlement which must follow once the war is ended? This is an important issue. 

The Ukrainian people were becoming used in the past 30 years to a good measure of freedom of expression. Would they want to give that up, or would we? The answer is obvious, which is why so many Ukrainians have fled west to safety when the Russians entered Ukraine, not to mention the large number of Russians fleeing across their borders, when they have found out the truth about the ‘special military operation’, not from their own media because there is a total clamp down on that. The Kremlin have been reasonably successful in enforcing their lopsided narrative, perhaps not so much the younger generation who have a mastery of social media.

War as a major distraction 

Meanwhile, Putin is planning for the next phase of his operation, since he must show some success for the unexpected resistance the Ukrainians have shown with due assistance in armaments from western allies. Ukraine has been promised help in the manner of stiffening air defences from the incursion of missiles and Iranian supplied drones. Apart from being a nuisance, the ones that get through the existing cover are damaging key infrastructure, as well as causing some civilian casualties.

While the main support for Ukraine, USA, UK, EU, the western allies, still remains steadfast, it must continue to do so. There is not much sign of an early end to the struggle. The longer it goes on there is danger of some of the support growing weary and voicing an opinion that a stop should be put to the war. Putin has to show some gain for causing so much misery and significant loss of his own people, or he will lose credibility, dwindling now according to some. To date it is assessed that 99,000 have been killed, an unproven figure. At the same time, the Ukrainians must be very reluctant to lose any territory. It would seem that a third party, acceptable to both, will have to be found to broker a satisfactory deal. Turkey? The UN employing impartial individuals? Strictures must be placed on agreed borders, which must be enforced for a significant period of time - 50 or 100 years. And peace must be allowed to return and kept.

Looking at Russia from afar, it has a very important part to play on the global stage in the next century. This special military operation of Putin’s must be seen as a distraction. The nations of the world are gradually getting together, for example under a UN mandate, to set aside some of their differences and tackle serious global problems. Russia incorporates a huge land mass with impressive resources. largely untapped. Potentially, it is a wealthy country and would do well to develop it for their own sakes and to help others.

About the author: 

Dr J Scott Younger, OBE, is a professional civil engineer; he spent 42 years in the Far East undertaking assignments in 10 countries for WB, ADB, UNDP.  He published many papers; he was a columnist for Forbes Indonesia and Globe Asia. He served on British & European Chamber boards and was a Vice Chair of Int’l Business Chamber for 17 years. His expertise is infrastructure and sustainable development and he takes an interest in international affairs. He is an International Chancellor of the President University, Indonesia. He is a member of IFIMES Advisory Board. Lived and worked in Thailand from 1978 to 1983 and visited Burma, Bangladesh and Nepal for projects.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect IFIMES official position.

Ljubljana/Glasgow, 22 December 2022

[1] IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018.