The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Putin Is Dangerous Because the Ukraine War Is Personal

Many commentators have been trying to guess Russia’s next move in Ukraine, especially concern the possible use of nuclear weapons.  Will Russia detonate one or won’t they?

The problem with most of these is that they have been looking at Putin as a rational, reasonable man.

He’s not.

This doesn’t mean he’s mad or insane or any other cartoon variety the image conjures up.

It means that Putin is not operating the war from the cold, dispassionate position it takes to properly prosecute a war.

The war in Ukraine is personal to him.  And that is what makes Putin a very dangerous man.

From the onset, Vladimir Putin has not operated in the manner expected by any rational standard.  Russia has constantly defied expectations because Russia has not done what any sane military would have.  From the invasion to the operation to throwing chaff into the fire (untrained and/or unprepared conscripts), Russia is behaving as if it is defending St. Petersburg from the advancing Third Reich rather than as the invader trying to capture new territory.

Putin himself has responded as a cornered animal rather than a leader, snarling and swiping in a desperate attempt to keep NATO out of Ukraine.  Cue the obligatory nuclear threat that is made every couple of days from either him or his subordinates.

More telling, though, is Putin’s hands-on approach to the war.  Reports are that he is micromanaging.  This is never a good thing.  Generally, a leader gives the army its objectives and then lets the army do its thing.  But when politicians start to get involved, things go bad.  And the more they get involved, the worse it gets.  Just look at the Korean and Vietnam wars and see what results from when politicians butt in.

But this micromanaging also means that the war is a reflection on him.  These are his victories as well as his failures.

We also have to look at the build-up to this war.

Putin has been an adversary to the West and NATO for a long time.  He sees Western encroachment as a threat.  That NATO plans to swallow up Russia and reduce it to a second-rate nation under the thumb of the United States.  Some of this comes from his upbringing.  And some of this comes from Russian DNA which is encoded to fear invasion.  (Getting invaded multiple times will do that to a country.)

This is what made Putin who he is and is what is driving his actions.

So Putin sees the West not only coming for his beloved country and empire, but for himself.

Couple this with the fact that Putin’s legacy is on the line here.  This is his war.  No one in his cabinet came to him one day and said, “Let’s capture Ukraine.”  This was his idea.  This is his baby.  He has put everything into it.  He has wrapped his country’s economy into it, thousands of lives, and drafted hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens on the mantle of his war.  He had better produce or it has been a waste.  And then what will happen to him?

History, as they say, is written by the winners.

All this combines to make Vladimir Putin a very dangerous man.  Because his stake in this war is personal.  There is only one balance sheet that he is consulting: his.  And he needs to come out ahead.

So make no mistake about it.  There is no cost so high that Putin will not pay.  No number of lives that can’t be sacrificed.  No risk too great.  Because the alternative is too bleak for him to contemplate.

Fortunately, Putin not insane.  Otherwise he would have used a nuke right from the outset.  He can still weigh the cost and benefit of actions.

He still holds out hope that he can pull a victory out of this.  That Ukraine can be ground out through attrition.  After all, Russia has more people than Ukraine.

But there is a line in the sand.  There is a point where Putin will take the next step.  He’s already said it.

“Why would we want a world without Russia?”

Of course, no one is looking to eliminate Russia.  But that isn’t how Vladimir Putin sees it.

He will do what it takes to protect himself.

It’s not a question of if he will or will not use a nuclear weapon in the war in Ukraine.  He will.

The question is: What will be the cause for him to use it?

The United States has been publicly ambiguous as to what it would do in response to a nuclear strike by Russia.  However, some U.S. officials have stated that President Biden favours a non-nuclear response.

So now Russia knows the cost.  Now Putin knows exactly where the line is.

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.


© 2024 The DEFCON Warning System. Established 1984.

The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.