Why the Russian military is floundering in Ukraine


It’s been two weeks, and Vladimir Putin still has not taken Kyiv. The war in Ukraine is a Rorschach test: One observer sees a Russian war machine continuing to grind forward, ineptly but ultimately irresistibly. A second squints and sees a Russian army in a quagmire of its own making — out of gas, out of food and dangerously low on fighting spirit.

It’s important to keep this in perspective: The Kremlin is still favored to win this fight through sheer weight of men, materiel and firepower. The Russian army is not, as some have said, a piper tiger. Instead, it’s a wounded tiger. And a wounded, desperate animal is a dangerous one.

Putin has made two critical mistakes. First, he did not expect to encounter a Ukrainian people in arms. He did not expect the Ukrainian army to put up a fierce, stubborn resistance in the field. And he did not expect to face off with a comedian-turned-president who has turned out to be a savvy social-media star with the spirit of a latter-day Winston Churchill.

Second, the Russian dictator frankly expected more out of his own troops.


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