Since the first Russian shell exploded in Ukraine, I have always maintained that mothers at home in Mother Russia hold the key to persuading Putin to perform an Afghan-style withdrawal from Ukraine.
But with Russian forces slowly but surely tightening their grip in key areas of Ukraine in spite of a valiant resistance from the Ukrainian forces, the bottom line is - Putin is still not giving any signals of a retreat, let alone a tactical withdrawal.
In the meantime, more innocent Ukrainian civilians are killed, wounded or forced to leave their localities to become some of the millions already abandoning the country.
Putin is using his ‘special powers’ back in Russia to ensure home-based opposition to his war in Ukraine is muted. Putin has clearly misjudged the level of opposition and the determination of the Ukrainian forces to fight to the last bullet.
For Putin, there is the real danger his preferred Nazi-style Blitzkrieg could deteriorate into a guerrilla-style ‘war of attrition’ as the old Soviet Union faced in Afghanistan and the United States once faced, too, in Vietnam.
To avoid such a ‘war of attrition’, Putin is concentrating his military campaign on innocent civilians in a clear plan to break the will of both the Ukrainian forces, but especially the Ukrainian people themselves.
The real danger which the West may have to deal with is that if Putin cannot break this Ukrainian will, the Russian President may resort to using even more devastating weapons, such as chemical or biological Weapons of Mass Destruction.
However, the targeting of innocent civilians is not a new tactic in war. It is based on the brutal observation - make the innocent pay for what the guilty do.
In Putin’s mind, the ‘guilty’ are the Ukrainian government which will not roll over and surrender, or has long-term ambitions to see Ukraine as a full member of either NATO, the European Union, or both. If any of the latter options became a reality, that’s Putin’s dreams of being the new Russian Tsar and rebuilding the Russian Empire flushed down the political toilet.
During the Second World War, Hitler attempted to break the United Kingdom with his bomber blitz of civilian areas of English cities, such as London, and even Belfast itself. Later, there was the V1 (known as the doodle bug) blitz of London. All aimed at civilians, to break their will to resist and put pressure on their government to negotiate a surrender.
The Allies played the same cards, too, during World War Two. There was the air forces massive bombing raids on German cities, such as Hamburg, Dresden and Cologne, all aimed at breaking the will of the German population.
And faced with the prospect of tremendous losses if the Allies - especially America - had to invade mainland Japan, the civilian population buckled when the US Air Force dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The huge civilian death toll from the atomic attacks forced the Japanese administration to surrender within days.
In April and May 1940, after Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union, the Russians massacred some 22,000 Polish military officers in the Katyn slaughter as a warning to the Polish civilian population not to organise a resistance against the Russian occupation.
Communist tyrant Pol Pot, who ruled Cambodia from 1976-79, killed between 1.5 million and two million people, mainly civilians, (about 25% of the country’s population) to asset his ‘year zero’ policy on the country. This specific genocide was highlighted dramatically in the hit movie, The Killing Fields, released in 1984.
The reality which must be faced is that even though the West is supplying the Ukrainian forces will weaponry and equipment, by sheer force of numbers, the Russians will eventually overwhelm the Ukrainian rebellion.
The West dare not enter the fray directly unless the Russians attack NATO forces or a NATO member state. For NATO forces to enter Ukraine to liberate it from the Russian invasion will only provide Putin with the excuse he needs to use his chemical and biological - even tactical nuclear - arsenal against the West.
Given the powerful influence of the Russian mothers, the pressure will be piled on Putin if Ukrainian resistance guerrillas can begin bombing and attacking military targets in Russia itself in the same way as the Viet Cong launched the Tet offensive during the Vietnam War in 1968, or the American-supplied Contra rebels attacked the communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, or indeed how Western-based UNITA rebels fought the Marxist MPLA government in the African state of Angola.
Bombs going off in Moscow will have more impact on Putin than Ukrainian soldiers throwing petrol bombs at his tanks in Ukraine.
While this is a huge military gamble, at what point does the Ukrainian resistance directly returns the serve by attacking civilian targets in Russia in the same brutal manner Putin’s forces are attempting to break the will of the Ukrainian population with attacks on schools, hospitals and residential accommodation.
The added danger is that Russia - as it has demonstrated before - begins to attack Ukrainian refugees being housed in other nations.
The bitter medicine which the West may need to swallow is that it will have to arm Ukrainian guerrillas to be just as brutal at targets in Russia as the Russian forces are currently doing to Ukrainian civilians.
Does that make the West no better off than Putin, or is it communicating to Putin in a military language which the Russian President clearly understands?
Specifically could a Ukrainian guerrilla attack on the Kremlin in Moscow be the incident which brings Putin in person seriously to the peace negotiating table?
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Listen to commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 10.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online.