The general and former chief of defense, Ambassador Dessen, told Dagbladet that Russia appears to be faltering – especially in northern Ukraine. He now believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin has three options.
– At the moment, the biggest challenge for the Russians is to control the major cities, then there are three possible strategies:
- They can besiege and isolate them to starve them and create a humanitarian catastrophe that will force the Ukrainians to surrender as they tried in Mariupol.
- They can destroy them systematically with the help of air, missile and artillery attacks as they partially tried in Kharkiv and as they did with Grozny during the war in Chechnya.
- They are trying to outrun them with ground forces by fighting from one quarter to the next, from street to street. The last option they will surely seek to avoid in the long run is a form of war that is time-consuming, difficult, and cost-consuming, that prefers defense over offense.
– He did it in Stalingrad
Diesen points out that no matter what strategy Putin chooses, it will have serious consequences in the form of loss of life and material destruction. In addition, the three alternatives will provoke strong reactions from the outside world, which Dessen believes will have serious consequences for Russia’s reputation for a long time to come.
– I think that Putin is ready to encircle and isolate cities, and I think he is ready to put them under the rubble. But I’m not sure if he would be willing to destroy the cities and then move in with the ground forces and clear them quarter by quarter, says Dissen and continues:
– The Russians know very well how this is done, as they did in the Battle of Stalingrad during the Second World War. It is very demanding and I think they will try other alternatives first.
– You will do irreparable damage
Further, Diesen sees the possibility that Putin may opt for civil war.
One can imagine that Putin is willing to do this, given his clear understanding of the failed reality and that he ultimately has less and less to lose. In addition, he will confirm his self-image as a Russian despot and dictator, ready to do what the Russian dictators did before him, he says and continues:
– but it will cause irreparable harm to him and Russia in the long run, and he runs the risk that someone in his inner circle will conclude that enough is enough.
– How do you assess the current mental state of Putin?
“I don’t have any preconditions for evaluating this, but I think Putin’s behavior now – his gross misjudgment of the resilience of the Ukrainians, the capacity of their forces, the Western reaction and the reaction of the Russian opposition – indicates that his orientation toward reality has been greatly weakened.”
Only defense can control Putin
The pressure on the Putin regime in Russia is expected to increase in line with the duration of the war and the bloodshed. On the other hand, the Russian authorities have introduced strict rules regulating people’s freedom of expression, assembly and information.
Diesen believes that in the event of Putin’s overthrow, only one institution in Russia is capable of doing so.
There is only one institution in Russia that can control Putin, and that is defense. Only those who have the physical means and equipment to carry out such a coup can expect security services such as the FSB and the National Guard to try to stop it.
I am not saying that it will happen, or that it will be easy to overthrow Putin, but if anyone has a chance to do so, it must be the Russian army, although I consider it unlikely at the moment.
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