Briefings for Britain, February, 27, Professor Robert Tombs
The unprovoked and unjustifiable Russian invasion of Ukraine has been horrifying. With concerns growing about Vladimir Putin’s state of mind, the risks of some form of catastrophic escalation may well increase if Russian forces get bogged down – a scenario that looks increasingly likely as Ukrainians put up a determined and heroic defence of their homeland. Even if his current ‘decapitation’ attack on Kyiv along a converging salient from Belarus and from Crimea were to succeed in the short term, authoritative estimates suggest that Putin will need 600,000 permanently stationed occupation troops to contain the partisan guerrilla phase that will follow. This is manpower he does not have. There are reports of Russian men of call-up age fleeing the country to the West to avoid conscription.
The temptation to escalate must therefore be very great and, short of tactical nuclear weapons (which he has of course), Putin has access to massed artillery and to missile-launched hyperbaric area-obliterating explosives. Putin has laid down red lines to us with much menace. Now comes the moment for the Free World to lay down red lines with explicit threats to hold Putin personally responsible. This would develop the Prime Minister’s narrative that begins to sever Putin from the Russian people who he explicitly exculpated from blame for Putin’s mad war.
This is an exceptionally grave crisis: the worst in Europe since the defeat of Hitler, containing already an implied threat of nuclear retaliation by a dictator whose conduct, in the view of qualified neuropsychologists, shows overt early Parkinsonian symptoms and associated deep psychoses. How has the West responded thus far?
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