Episode 182: “Are We Misreading Putin’s War Aims” with Dr. Peter Vincent Pry
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This episode is a follow-up to my conversation a few weeks ago with Dr. Peter Vincent Pry about our concerns that our Administration’s responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.
Today, we consider also an alternate possibility that Vladimir Putin is playing a much deeper game than most in the West have imagined.
As Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, former Chief of Staff of the Congressional EMP Commission and Director of the US Nuclear Strategy Forum, Dr Pry brings a vast and imaginative knowledge of history and of modern warfare.
“Most analysts, including myself, thought that the relevant scenario was Crimea and that the Russians would go for a quick, almost bloodless, victory,” speculates Peter, “but there is another Russian way of war that was right under our noses. And that is a long protracted war … it’s almost like they’re deliberately doing everything they can to try to provoke the West to intervene, to jump into the war.”
There are a lot of strange things in the way the Russians have conducted the Ukraine War that have violated most all of the fundamental elements of their military doctrine.
They didn’t go for tactical and strategic surprise. They attacked openly in the face of the West. They haven’t cyber attacked although the Russians have demonstrated the ability to isolate their cyber attacks to Ukraine itself.
They haven’t committed some of their best conventional forces. Their best and most modern tanks haven’t been committed to Ukraine. Of their 20,000 tanks they’re using mostly older models and only a small fraction of those.
“The Russian air force has almost been absent without leave, hasn’t been deployed in its best capabilities,” explains Peter, “and has played a very limited role.”
We need to consider the possibility that this whole thing right from the beginning might not be just about Ukraine.
“It might be aimed at creating a long period of chaos in the center of Europe,” reasons Peter, “that it’s going to put such stress on its economies and the NATO Alliance that the NATO Alliance will come apart at the seams.”
Putin isn’t returning phone calls from the White House and Russian general staffs are not talking to our Pentagon.
“They’ve basically stopped communicating with us,” says Peter. “That isn’t the action of a country that’s badly losing a war and is desperately seeking an exit.”
We should be cautious about what we believe of what we’re being told in Ukraine and about the performance of the Russian army.
We’re told Russia is on the ropes, that it looks like it could lose the Ukraine War, Putin could fall from power and that he and the elites who support him and his family could be executed.
But consider this: Putin has postured Russia’s nuclear arsenal in such a way that they can launch most of their forces in just a few minutes without telegraphing any messages to us.
This a time for America to stop saber rattling and develop a sober considered strategy to defuse the Ukraine tinderbox.
Dr Peter Vincent Pry outlines some sensible and constructive strategies to wind down the hostilities, up to and including hitting the reset button with Russia, reminding us that our real object in our new Cold War is China.
There’s a lot to learn from this conversation. Please listen in.