Vladimir Putin entered the war in Syria in 2015 to take sides with the butcher of Damascus. In the next few years, Putin tested all his weapons, new and existing, and Syria became his own laboratory. But testing your weapons on defenseless and helpless people is not the same as testing them against a worthy adversary. In a way, Syria caused the downfall of Vladimir Putin because it provided him the confidence that Ukraine is for the taking as easily without realizing that Russian weapons do not work as well against western defensive weapons, or the test of people whose western support is far superior to any the rebels in Syria received upon Russia waging its war against the civilian population.
To a certain extent, Syria may have been Putin’s laboratory, but Ukraine is fast becoming his graveyard. And the only reason such has happened is because there is a big difference between sending warplanes to bomb civilians with no air defenses and sending warplanes to bomb a real army with real defensive weapons.
Not the United States, nor Europe would ever allow Russia to rise again to the old days of the Cold War
FISH IN A BARREL
Imagine taking out your son to teach him how to fish. But instead of taking him to a real pond to experience the travails that real fishermen go through to learn the craft, you drop some fish in a barrel. This is how modern Russia learned how to fight a war. In a barrel laboratory.
But long before Syria, Russia also fought defenseless people in Georgia, Chechnya, and Ukraine in 2014 because then President Barack Obama refused to assist the country. Russia ended its invasion by annexing the Crimea.
This Russian history of fighting weak and unprotected countries led to today’s Ukrainian scenario where Putin’s past laboratory tests turned useless against a well-armed and western-backed Ukrainian army.
After his Syrian campaign, the world saw a shirtless Putin flexing his muscles on the world stage enough for leaders of Arab countries, and even Israel, to pilgrim to Moscow to find common space and ideology to deal with the rise of a Leviathan giant.
Today, however, Putin’s dreams of returning to the vast empire the Russians built after World War II is crashing before his eyes. Not the United States, nor Europe would ever allow Russia to rise again to the old days of the Cold War, and any funds the west is committing to Ukraine today would dwarf the funds it would cost the west to return to Stalin’s legacy. Or the danger the west would have to endure with Vladimir Putin at the helm of a vast and expanding nuclear arsenal.
Then, and only then, Putin might also realize that Syria caused his own downfall because of the confidence he acquired killing innocent civilians like fish in a barrel.
TIME IS ON EUROPE’S SIDE
Today, sanctions are not working. Recently, we discovered that Iranian drones have been equipped with U.S. made technology that Iran found a way to acquire despite the sanctions. The same goes for Russian sanctions. Iran has probably already delivered the mechanism to defeat U.S. sanctions to the Russians.
Unless the US polices its technology from the moment it leaves its factory floors until it ends in a manufactured product, U.S. sanctions will never work. Diverting U.S. technology is not so difficult once it leaves our borders.
Nonetheless, time is on Europe’s side in its posture to defend Ukraine. There are economic and social limitations to how long a country can wage a war without paying a steep price domestically. Something Ukrainians can sidestep as they defend their country from a reckless and illegal invasion.
The same goes for the United States. We will keep the conveyor belt going and our money spigot open as long as it takes. Eventually, there would be a point at which Putin might realize that Ukraine is not Syria, and his dreams of rebuilding the old Soviet Empire are a non-starter for a determined and more powerful western alliances.
Then, and only then, Putin might also realize that Syria caused his own downfall because of the confidence he acquired killing innocent civilians like fish in a barrel. Crimes he has yet to pay for and which, indirectly, led to the Ukraine war.
Hopefully, Ukraine would eventually succeed in prosecuting Putin where others failed.