Experts Call Out Putin’s “Very Flawed” Assumptions on Ukraine

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On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country’s invasion of Ukraine to demilitarize and de-Nazify its neighbor. Conventional wisdom said Kyiv would likely fall within 72 hours in the face of a full-scale assault. However, more than 200 days into the conflict, experts are calling out the former KGB officer’s mistaken assumptions regarding the struggle’s outcome.

On September 8, CIA Director William Burns gave a scathing overview of Putin’s flawed tactics at the annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, DC. According to him, it was difficult to view the Russian leader’s record in Ukraine as “anything other than a failure.” The intelligence chief also predicted the “long-term damage” to the Russian economy and people would impact generations of its citizens.

Retired Australian Maj. Gen. Mick Ryan told Newsweek he agreed with Burns’ evaluation. He attributed Russia’s failures in Ukraine to Putin’s “very flawed” assumptions that the Ukrainians wouldn’t fight back and Western countries wouldn’t intervene. This failure led to the Kremlin’s decision to launch a “risky multi-pronged advance.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley echoed that sentiment during a September 8 press conference at Ramstein Air Force Base. The four-star general praised the Ukrainian military’s ability to push back against the Russian invaders. Milley explained Putin has only managed to achieve “minor tactical success” in eastern Ukraine, adding that his “strategic objectives have been defeated” so far.

Consistent with those assessments, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently announced that Ukrainian military forces have “liberated” more than 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) of territory from the Russians since September 1.

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