'Putin has gotten the opposite of what he wanted,' Russia expert says.
Sanford School professors Simon Miles and Bruce Jentleson brief media
DURHAM, N.C. -- Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, while poorly planned and shoddily executed in many ways, may still force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to negotiate concessions his people will not want to make, two Duke experts said Tuesday March 15.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to create discord among Western powers is having the opposite effect.
The two Sanford School of Public Policy scholars discussed those and many other issues related to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine in a virtual media briefing with journalists. Watch the briefing on YouTube and an explainer video on sanctions here.
Here are excerpts:
ON RUSSIA’S MISCALCULATIONS
Simon Miles, public policy professor and expert on Russia and former Soviet Union
“We’re seeing the Russians continuing to pay the price for launching this war with really just a fantastical concept of operations. That is to say they built their military planning for the beginning and what they thought would be the end of the war on a pretty heady brew of prejudice and really, really bold assumptions about the Russian military’s performance and the Ukrainian military’s what they thought would be extremely poor performance. So they started off, to put it very mildly, on the wrong foot, and they’re paying a price for that.”
“But we do see the Russian military beginning to adapt on the ground in ways which are positive for them from a military effectiveness standpoint.”
“One of the ironies of this entire disaster has been that in many ways Putin has gotten the opposite of what he wanted. He wanted a fractured West that was just squabbling over sanctions; he’s gotten the opposite. He wanted Germany sitting on the sidelines; he’s provoked a revolution in German foreign policy. He wanted Ukraine never in NATO, never in the European Union. I think both of those are fair game at this juncture.”
ON A POTENTIAL NATO NO-FLY ZONE
Bruce Jentleson, professor of public policy and political science, former senior adviser, U.S. State Department
“There are a number of problems with doing (a no-fly zone). As a military operation, to basically provide the protection people are calling for, it would have nothing to do with ground artillery and rockets that are coming. It’s really about the air. So it wouldn’t necessarily solve the humanitarian problem.”
“It pretty much guarantees that there will be a military confrontation – intentional or inadvertent – between American/NATO troops, armed forces and Russia.”
“This is something we have avoided throughout the nuclear age. In 1956, when the Soviets brutally repressed the Hungarian rebellion, there was no military action. In 1968 in Czechoslovakia, and throughout the history of the nuclear age. People should not underestimate the risks of getting involved in that. The risks of starting to climb the nuclear ladder are very real.”
“Putin would love to see us do this. It would change the dynamic of the conflict to the West bearing some responsibility for escalation. We would say we’re trying to do the right thing … but in some ways it would help Putin get out of some of the dilemmas that he’s faced as well as the possibility for shared responsibility for any nuclear escalation.”
“President Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis was very intentional in trying to avoid that.”
Bruce Jentleson is a professor of public policy and political science at Duke University. He served as senior adviser to the State Department Policy Planning Director from 2009-11 and is author Sanctions: What Everyone Needs to Know and The Peacemakers: Leadership Lessons from Twentieth-Century Statesmanship.
Jennifer Siegel is the first scholar named the Bruce R. Kuniholm Distinguished Professor of History and Public Policy, named for the founding dean of the Sanford School Bruce Kuniholm. Her research focuses on the intersection of international diplomacy, modern intelligence, finance, the origins of war and the nature of alliances. She is the author of the book For Peace and Money: French and British Finance in the Service of Tsars and Commissars.