Putin is suffering 'legitimate humiliation' after misjudging the West's willingness to get involved in Ukraine war, Russia expert says

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.Getty Images
  • Putin is likely humiliated as Russia's military losses mount in Ukraine, a Russia expert told Insider.

  • Such defeats are made worse due to the US, UK, and other NATO allies aiding Ukraine's cause.

  • "He misjudged the resilience of the West," Simon Miles, a Duke professor said of Putin.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked war against Ukraine nearly seven months ago, he significantly underestimated the willingness of Western governments to become involved in the conflict between two Soviet neighbors, an expert on Russia told Insider.

That miscalculation was on full display earlier this month as Ukraine secured one of its biggest victories yet following the launch of two major offensives in the northeast and south in an effective effort to reclaim occupied territory that sent Russian troops fleeing — an assault that while exclusively executed by Ukrainian forces, was reportedly made possible thanks to US and UK intelligence, strategy, and weapons.

"The last thing I want to do is take anything away from the pretty extraordinary heroism of the Ukrainians on the ground who are using those tools," Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy and a historian of the Soviet Union and US-Soviet relations said. "But the preparation of that battle space and the un-leveling of the playing field in the Ukrainians' favor is in big part a story of the weapons they've been getting from the US and other NATO allies and then using to extraordinary effect."

The Ukrainians' soaring success coupled with the presence that Putin's geopolitical adversaries played in recent victories have almost certainly left the Russian president fuming, Miles said.

"Absolutely Putin is aware of this," the professor told Insider. "This is, I'm sure, frustrating and humiliating to him because I think he genuinely didn't believe this would happen."

Putin's personal vendetta against Ukraine and his misplaced assuredness in Russia's military supremacy likely blinded him to the Western world's willingness to come to Ukraine's aid.

"He misjudged the resilience of the West," Miles said. "He misjudged the willingness of western governments and firms to take a hit to punish Russia, and certainly the willingness of Europe to imperil their supply of gas."

Russia has targeted the continent's natural gas supply, shutting down Nord Stream 1 pipeline and leaving just one major pipeline delivering gas to all of Europe in retaliation against European sanctions on Russia. Energy prospects throughout Europe remain somewhat grim and Miles predicted that Putin will try to push Europe to its limit as winter comes to the continent in a few short months. But recent inventory data suggests the European Union is actually set to meet its winter natural gas storage goals two months early, despite Russia's chokehold.

The US, too, has had to make sacrifices as a result of Russia's war in Ukraine. Gas prices skyrocketed earlier this summer and remain high in many places, while increased shipping prices have impacted the country as well.

Putin's war has also had massive implications on global politics. The notoriously neutral Finland and Sweden quickly made moves to join NATO following Russia's incursion — an ironic consequence of the war, considering Putin's goal to hinder the military alliance's power. 

Russia's mounting military losses in conjunction with the Western world's rallying behind Ukraine is a worst-case scenario for Putin.

"I think this is driving him nuts. I think he's totally miserable right now," Miles said.

Experts told Insider's John Haltiwanger that Russia's strategic defeat throughout the war thus far has "dramatically" altered perceptions of Russia's military strength and may ultimately put Putin's regime in jeopardy.

"All of this is pretty humiliating for Putin, as it should be," Miles said. "This is legitimate humiliation on the world stage."

Read the original article on Business Insider