Unpopular opinion

Putin doesn’t care about winning

4 min readMar 10, 2022


He’s playing a longer game than that

Photo by Khashayar Kouchpeydeh on Unsplash

Let’s attempt the impossible. Let’s pretend to walk a mile in Putin’s blood soaked shoes. Walk with me, see if you see what I see.

What if Putin doesn’t want to hold Ukraine?

The population of young Russian people is falling; Russia’s population is below replacement levels. That means fewer children are being born to replace the population that dies. As a result, the labor pool is set to fall as the population ages out. Men expect to live to an average of 67 years, women 78. Given crippling sanctions and the precipitous drop in Western tech and medicine, this will accelerate the trend lower. Russia’s economy is set to collapse one way or the other no matter what Putin does.

Without fresh recruits, Putin knows the Russian army will not be able to mount effective campaigns to overrun and hold territory in the coming years. Putin cannot hold Ukraine with the army he currently has, far less hold it in the future.

Want to know how many people it takes to hold an occupied territory? It takes an average of 20 troops per 1000 inhabitants. See page 28 of the linked report.

For a population of 44+ million Ukrainians? Let’s see, carry the one, move the two, the math works out to 880,000. Putin will need 880,000 troops to hold Ukraine alone. He’ll need even more to secure Russia.

Putin’s army currently numbers in the hundreds of thousands, spread out over bases, submarines, ships and defense of Russian territory in general. He cannot keep Ukraine no matter what he does, he doesn’t have the numbers. He knows it. We know it. So what’s the plan?




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