Sometimes you change the subject, and sometimes the subject changes you
Thank you for the sober and elegant analysis.
This is a convincing analysis of the war situation. I haven't heard anyone else describe it in this way, and it sounds plausible. Russia is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, but you've unwrapped some of that. Also, made me feel a lot more reason for optimism. These are scary times, so it is valuable to receive such a cool-headed analysis. Thank you.
Happy International Teachers' Day, Professor Snyder. Knowing is not enough, you need to be able to share that knowledge and you do it with great vigour, wisdom and spirit. Thank you from your 70-year-old online student of the Yale course on Ukraine.
I hope you have a direct line to folks that are making decisions (POTUS)in how we aid and think about Ukraine. Thank you for sharing your insights. Too often the talking heads do the black and white thinking, nuclear devastation or not. Thank you for detailing other outcomes.
Kadyrov is one of the few people that I fear more than Putin. I don't fear that Putin will use a nuclear weapon, but I do fear the new international order that he wants to create. Kadyrov on the other hand; he seems completely mad.
I wish when you are interviewed on the news the reporters were more informed and could ask better questions so you could unlock their fixed notions and share your point of view with a larger public. Thank you.
All conflicts lend themselves to nuances. However, the media coverage of this war is heavily tinted by nuke-fear, which Prof Snyder admits is warranted but not to the exclusion of the thinking of the combatants nor of where they find themselves politically and militarily. No one needs reminding that TS is a historian and that our educational ‘system’ would do well to bring the study of history back into our classrooms beginning in elementary school. The thoughts expressed in this article add much to the on-going conversation about Ukraine’s moment in history.
Thank you for this very insightful piece. Although you don’t quite say it, I think the underlying premise of the piece is that at some point Putin beats a strategic retreat and most likely - although not guaranteed - survives. That sounds plausible to me, but I think it is even more plausible that Putin doesn’t survive. After all, Khrushchev didn’t survive the Cuban Missile Crisis, even though not a shot was fired and not a single fatality was suffered. Since the military opposed Putin’s War from the beginning and needs to avoid, if at all possible, being tagged as the scapegoats for it, the one thing that all the warring factions can probably agree on is that this was Putin’s war, not their own. If that’s true, there will inevitably come a day when Putin’s Kremlin guards decide to stay home and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with their pleasantly surprised wives and children. That will be the morning when Putin’s executioners visit him. All dictatorships are impregnable… until the morning when they are not.
As usual, a brilliant analysis. Thank you!
This makes sense on so many levels and is very helpful, among other things, in focusing on what is indeed the likely outcome rather than the constant dooms day noise from the mainstream media. I sincerely hope and trust that your subscriber base in and around DC is very large!
Very deep and clear (just what I always expect from anything you've written). Thank you!
so grateful for your commentary, and for the ability to (virtually) audit your history of Ukraine lectures at Yale. other outcomes. yes. and just finished Marci's book on the Maidan; which was excellent.
Thank you Dr. Snyder, for helping me think about my freedom. Your formulation of "Essence before Presence" has helped me understand the true meaning of "Give me liberty or give me death." It is calm. It is filled with equanimity. It is strong.
How important is Kadyrov in the larger picture? He shoots his mouth off a lot, but that doesn't make him politically powerful; he's head of a republic with a population of only about 1.5 million. He holds a general's rank in the Russian army but evidently he doesn't fit anywhere in the normal chain of command. What kind/size of forces does he control? I know he had fighters at Kyiv to attempt to wipe out Zelenskyy and other leaders, but they weren't successful, and I assume some, at least, were killed. How much does Putin trust him? Would he ever be able to get his people close to Putin?
If Putin has to fall back on the regular army for survival, he's probably finished. I doubt the army has very nice thoughts about him now. But I don't think he's ever intended to rely on them for his personal safety. Likewise the FSB, whom Putin probably doesn't have very nice thoughts about after it misled him about the Ukrainians. But Putin also has control of National Guard OMON and SOBR units, who among other things provide security for the president's office. According to Wikipedia, they total around 25,000 highly trained members. That ought to be enough to hold the Kremlin against a bandit like Kadyrov.
Putin's mobilization strikes us as shambolic. But Putin remembers that the Red Army had to pull together a defense after being taken by surprise in 1941. That was infinitely more shambolic, but they prevailed in the end. Putin's father was in an NKVD battle police unit, the kind that summarily executed anyone suspected of sabotage, any soldier separated from his unit if he was not carrying written authorization, and political "unreliables" in general. Savage as it was, that policy was eventually effective; the Red Army lost its fear of the Germans. Putin, of course, doesn't have Siberian divisions to fall back on, or a bottomless supply of replacements, or American Lend-Lease. But he believes in Holy Russia, and he knows it has won against long odds before.
another brilliant piece
Lucid analysis. I fear the Kadyrow militia and the Wagner group might wait for the best opportunity to to operate a political coup d'état and that this might eventually lead to a "civil war" between what is left of regular Russian armed forces and these postmodern "Armagnacs". The question will be if Putin is still free enough to take sides which regular forces or could become a puppet in the hands of the two condottieri.