Vladimir Putin made ‘terrible mistake’ invading Ukraine, University of Missouri prof says

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People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday.

People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t working out the way he had planned, said Stephen Quackenbush, an associate professor at the University of Missouri.

He’s director of the Defense and Strategic Studies Program in the Truman School of Government and Public Affairs.

“I think he has made a terrible mistake,” Quackenbush said of the Ukraine invasion. “It has been a terrible mistake to attack. He thought the Ukrainian people would welcome the advance and it would be an easy victory.”

Instead Russian forces are meeting stiff resistance, taking control of just one major city as of Friday.

There have been large protests in Russia.

“This is very unpopular in Russia, especially among those who understand what’s happening,” Quackenbush said.

Stephen QuackenbushStephen Quackenbush

Stephen Quackenbush

Targeted efforts, sanctions against Russian oligarchs

If Putin loses power related to this, it will be because he loses the support of the oligarchs who back him, not because of public protests, Quackenbush said.

Sanctions announced this week by U.S. President Joe Biden are targeted at Russian oligarchs.

“These economic sanctions are devastating the economy,” Quackenbush said.

More:The Ukraine crisis through the eyes of University of Missouri international students

NATO unified after Russian invasion

Putin wants a weak NATO, but the invasion has created the opposite result, he said.

“He wants a divided West,” Quackenbush said of Putin. “He’s done a remarkable job of unifying NATO.”

Even Germany, which in the past has been hesitant, is involved now because the threat is real, he said.

“Former President Trump did a lot to undermine NATO,” Quackenbush said.

The United Nations General Assembly this week voted to condemn the Russian invasion, further isolating the country.

More: Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and Fellowship protest Russian invasion of Ukraine

Is the Russian invasion the start of WWIII?

His students have asked him if this is the start of World War III, but Quackenbush tells them it’s not.

“I don’t think China wants to get involved in this war,” Quackenbush said, citing one factor.

Although Russia has a history of attacking its neighbors, that’s not part of China’s recent history, he said. China wants economic and political stability.

“China focuses on building a very strong economy,” Quackenbush said.

More: Russia seizes site of Ukrainian nuclear plant fire; NATO accuses Russia of using cluster bombs: Live updates

How long will Ukraine be able to hold out against Russian forces?

Although facing unexpected defiance, the Russian military is large and powerful, Quackenbush said.

“My expectation is eventually — we don’t know how long, maybe a month or two — Russia will be able to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses,” he said.

He called Kyiv, the capital, Ukraine’s “center of gravity.” If Kyiv is captured, that will be key to the Russian effort, he said.

If Russia occupies Ukraine, it will face ongoing popular resistance, he said.

“There will be insurgency fighting,” Quackenbush said.

There haven’t been many good moments for the Russian military, he said.

“I think that so far, the Russian performance has been disappointing from a Russian perspective, I would suspect,” Quackenbush said.

rmckinney@columbiatribune.com

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This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Mizzou professor says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ‘terrible mistake’