Tuesday, July 5, 2022

‘If Putin Was a Woman . . .’ To grasp the Russian president’s worldview, just binge-watch ‘Catherine the Great.’; Lessons of Russia’s War in Ukraine: You Can’t Hide and Weapons Stockpiles Are Essential; Ukrainian flag flies over Snake Island again after Russian retreat; U.S. won't push Ukraine to negotiate, NSC's Kirby says, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

Photo: Amazon
‘If Putin Was a Woman . . .’
To grasp the Russian president’s worldview, just binge-watch ‘Catherine the Great.’
We live in an age of bad gender punditry, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has contributed to the confusion. Speaking to German media between the Group of Seven and NATO summits late last month, he offered the following wisdom: “If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn’t, but if he were, I really don’t think he would have embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has. If you want a perfect example of toxic masculinity, it’s what he is doing in Ukraine.”
One hopes this was the reflexive and insincere pandering of a career politician, because if Mr. Johnson and his G-7 colleagues actually believe this nonsense, the West is in even greater trouble than it appears.
Vladimir Putin isn’t trying to be more like Rambo. Among other heroes of Russian history, he is trying to imitate Catherine the Great. The most successful of a line of 18th-century rulers, mostly female, who expanded the empire of Peter the Great and made Russia the greatest land power in Europe, Catherine conquered the Crimea and western Ukraine. She won naval battles in the Black Sea and ruthlessly suppressed rebellions at home. Having installed a former lover as king of Poland, she gleefully took the lion’s share of that unhappy country while partitioning it three times.
Americans hoping to get beyond stereotypes to grasp Mr. Putin’s worldview should spend some time on the couch binge-watching “Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great.” This lushly produced costume drama, made with funding from the Russian Ministry of Information and presented in Russian with English subtitles on Amazon Prime, lets viewers see Russia the way Mr. Putin wants Russians to see it. It provides more insight into Putinist thinking than all the bloviations of the G-7 leaders.
In the series, Catherine overthrows her feckless husband, Peter III, and secures power by ordering the murder of a young ex-emperor and sanctioning Peter’s murder at the hand of her lover. When Peter, a slavish admirer and imitator of Prussian King Frederick the Great, came to power, he recalled Russian troops then occupying Berlin and conceded huge territories to Frederick in hope of building an alliance of values with Russia’s former foe. Like the liberals of the Yeltsin era, he sought to provide Russia with a modern Western-style constitution and generally to make Russia a European country. The hero who helps Catherine seize the throne—an officer from the Russian occupation force in Germany disgusted with Peter’s abject weakness in the face of Western arrogance—could remind Russian viewers of ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin returning to the chaos of post-Soviet Russia from his German posting. In subsequent seasons, Catherine goes on to crush domestic opposition and defeat Russia’s eternal enemies to the west and south. --->READ MORE HERE
Photo: Manu Brabo for The Wall Street Journal
Lessons of Russia’s War in Ukraine: You Can’t Hide and Weapons Stockpiles Are Essential
U.S., its allies study Europe’s biggest conflict in decades; ‘You can’t cyber your way across a river
Western governments are bracing for a protracted conflict with Russia over Ukraine, and military leaders are racing to distill lessons from the opening months of Europe’s largest land war in almost eight decades.
President Biden and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last week pledged to support Ukrainian forces for as long as it takes for Kyiv to prevail. How long that means will depend in large part on how fighting plays out, and both sides are trying to adapt.
Defense planners are studying weapons, tactics, logistics and other factors for insights that can give them an edge on the current battlefield—and in future conflicts.
“We’ve been watching the war in Ukraine closely, and we are already learning and adapting,” Gen. Patrick Sanders, the new chief of Britain’s general staff, said in a recent speech. “We will rethink how we fight.”
The conflict is drawing close attention—and has become something of a laboratory for professional soldiers—not just because it is proving so deadly to fighters and civilians, or because it is the first big war to play out in near-real-time on social media.
The war in Ukraine is the first in decades involving large, fairly modern and roughly evenly matched forces. Others over recent decades have either pitted cutting-edge forces against less modern foes, as in the two Gulf wars and Afghanistan, or were on a smaller scale. --->READ MORE HERE
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