Timothy Snyder: Russia can lose the war

May 9,2024 332
Timothy Snyder: Russia can lose the war

Russia can and must lose the war against Ukraine, wrote American historian Timothy Snyder, an expert on Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Holocaust, in a column for CNN.

On Thursday Russia will celebrate Victory Day, its commemoration of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. Domestically, this is nostalgia. In the 1970s, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev created a cult of victory. Russia under Putin has continued the tradition. Abroad, this is intimidation. We are meant to think that Russia cannot lose,” Snyder writes.

After the start of the great war, many people in the West also believed that Russia was impossible to defeat, the historian writes. But in practice, everything turned out differently. “The notion of an invincible Red Army is propaganda. … Of its three most consequential foreign wars, the Red Army lost two,” the text says. The Soviet army, with its allies, defeated Nazi Germany in 1945, but when it waged wars itself, it lost: 1920 against Poland and 1979 in Afghanistan, Snyder writes.

The Soviet army included Ukrainians. Today, Russia is not fighting alongside Ukraine but against it. “And it lacks the American economic support – Lend-Lease – that the Red Army needed to defeat Nazi Germany. In this constellation, there is no particular reason to expect Russia to win. One would expect, instead, that Russia’s only chance is to prevent the West from helping Ukraine – by persuading us that its victory is inevitable,” the column says.

The consequences of Russia’s victory will be catastrophic for both the world and the Russians themselves. Because the defeat of the Kremlin is their only chance for a normal future, Snyder says.

Read the full column at the link.

Cover: Stefan Fürtbauer/dpa