Discover more from Anti-Empire
Putin Is a Serial Decision-Making Procrastinator, and Russia Is Paying the Price
Price that will haunt Russia for centuries
I heard such a great summary of Putin recently, I couldn’t have put it better myself:
I see him fundamentally as a phenomenal procrastinator in terms of decision making. And usually waiting until the very end when all the best options are gone and he is forced into a decision, and he is only able to pick between poor options and worse options. And he takes the risk, he takes the action, but the efficacy is much lower than if he had done it much sooner.
This is precisely right. In the end, Putin still always takes the escalation road, but because he leaves it so late the efficacy is much lower than if he had done it sooner.
The way he acts is the way you would operate if you wanted your escalatory moves to fail as much as possible, and have as little effect as possible.
He procrastinates on things past any reasonable date, allowing the situation to turn way against Russia before he will do anything, and even then he will only take the most minimal step that he can get away with.
The time to start giving the military the men it needs wasn’t 7 months into the war. It was on day one of the war.
Now that Ukraine has had 7 months to expand forces, gain experience, build confidence and assimilate NATO hardware, the 300K reinforcements are going to have a far lower impact than they could have had when Russia was still advancing against a weaker opponent. (And before the Russian professional army had exhausted itself.)
Whereas if you’re going to be conducting a wanna-be police operation the time for that was 2014, not February 2022. (Bizzare!!!)
Kofman is actually talking here about his handling of Syria, but the description applies just as well to his handling of Ukraine and the NATO/West situation.
In fact, Putin’s indecision in Syria (— he only intervened after the Syrian army had already all but disintegrated and there was very little left to save —) is much easier to defend because Moscow doesn’t have a big stake in Syria.
How much of Syria survives isn’t really a critical question for Moscow, but Ukraine-Little Russia can’t possibly be treated with the same lack of ownership. A Russo-Ukrainian war is a bell you can not unring. Ringing that bell is going to have consequences for inter-East Slavic relations that are going to reverberate for centuries. If that is something you’re going to do (and it’s questionable that you should) then you absolutely owe it to pour enormous resources and planning into it from the start to make it as overwhelming and as brief as possible. To maximize the benefits of a violent resolution as possible, and limit the immense fallout from it as much as possible.
What is being done now is the exact opposite. It is what you would do if you wanted to build up anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalism as much as possible, thus cementing Ukraine’s separation and hostility as much as possible, while also trying to make Russia’s direct territorial gains vs Ukraine as meager as possible. — It is the worst of both worlds.
Kofman then moves onto Ukraine 2014:
So my view of it is that Crimea worked out rather well for Putin, but the rest of the campaign in Donbass ended up being a fitfull messy escalation that ultimately didn't get Russia what they wanted and ended up showing the limitations of the utility of force that they were trying to achieve, and that throughout he had been trying to pursue the most minimal [inaudible] he could, and he ended up in a situation where he was chipping in, chipping in, and chipping in, and getting pot committed into it and still not being able to attain his political objectives.
Briefly going back to 2014, that was another demonstration of Putin the Procrastinator when the initial plan fails, when he has attempted to conduct an operation, doesn't go through and he spent entire summer on his hands, fitfully escalating, until eventually he had to yank Girkin and Borodai out of there, and conduct a conventional military intervention leading to the Minsk-1 agreement — and that didn't achieve their objectives.
And then they conducted another campaign in the winter, in the Battle of Debaltsevo that led to the second Minsk agreement — and that also in the long run didn't achieve their political objectives either.
And the reason I raise that is that I saw it very much replicated in what over the course of this year. Where the initial campaign was unsuccessful and then Putin decided to proceed with fitfull escalation and basically sat on his hand, pursued piecemeal solutions, all of which were basically kicking the can down the road, and is now looking like he is steadily running out of road. He has been procrastinating this whole time in making any of the hard political decisions.
It’s quite damning when your own enemies have you figured out as indecisive, and a wimp.
Here is a Kiev-born American, Kofman, as pro-Empire as they come, and even he can’t wrap his mind around why Putin can’t make a single decision when it would be actually appropriate but has to sabotage each and every one of them by leaving them way past their best before date.
Thanks for reading Anti-Empire! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.