Image credit: Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik

March 15, 2023

Why Won’t Vladimir Putin Cut His Losses in Ukraine?

Featuring Michael Kofman

Source: The Week

Journalist Richard Windsor

Even in the face of heavy, increasing losses, Russian President Vladimir Putin remains resolved to continue fighting but is “grasping for meaning in a meaningless invasion”, wrote David V. Gioe, a professor at King’s College London’s Department of War Studies, for Foreign Policy.

Like countless leaders before him who have entered doomed conflicts, Putin “cannot escape a self-made trap”. He is unable to justify his “incoherent” claims for war and is meanwhile caught in the “sunk-cost fallacy”, whereby he chooses to “continue fighting at even greater cost” rather than “admit to the people that the previous sacrifices were in vain”.

There is little chance now that Putin will find his way to “rise above” this fallacy, said Gioe, and he looks set to “grind on until the bitter end” to try and achieve a “decisive outcome”.

On the battlefield, Russia’s “underwhelming” military offensive remains “rather limited”, having lost significant numbers of troops and equipment, agreed Michael Kofman, the director of Russian studies at the research institute CNA. While neither military is “what it was at the beginning of the war”, he told Intelligencer, Russia’s current capabilities mean it “cannot make substantial territorial gains”.

Read the full story and more from The Week.


  • Michael Kofman

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    Michael Kofman serves as a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses' Russia Studies Program, and a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Internation...