Observers say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “Putin’s biggest mistake”

Analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin made “the biggest mistake of his political life” when he decided to invade neighboring Ukraine, weakening Russia for years to come.

Putin has been in power for more than two decades, during which time he has carefully built an image of himself as a tough and powerful leader, fighting for Russia’s interests and restoring the country to its status as a geopolitical and economic superpower.

Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to NATO, told CNN:CNBCThe American said that “everything that Putin did before the invasion of Ukraine, although it damaged Russia’s reputation, but also strengthened its power.”

“But now, after the decision to invade, he has greatly weakened Russia, in all respects,” he added, adding that he could not think of anything Putin had done in his political life that could compare” with the decision to invade.

World leaders gather in Europe Thursday to discuss the war in Ukraine and how to help the country survive a Russian attack, with an extraordinary NATO summit in Brussels, as well as meetings of European Union and Group of Seven leaders.

NATO is expected to commit “significant increases” in troop numbers along its eastern flank as well as provide more weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with CNBC Thursday that Putin “made a big mistake by waging war against an independent, sovereign state.”

“Putin underestimated the strength and courage of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian armed forces,” he adds.

Although the Russian forces launched massive attacks and daily bombarded Ukrainian cities and adopted the tactic of imposing siege in some areas, they managed to capture only one city, Kherson.

“It is increasingly clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin miscalculated badly,” says Henry Jackson Society researcher Taras Cousio in an article published by the Atlantic Council.

“He appears to have believed the Kremlin’s fictional propaganda claims about the weakness of the Ukrainian army and the willingness of ordinary Ukrainians to welcome its invading forces with flowers and candy.”

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In addition, Kusio notes, Putin did not appear to have been prepared for the international reaction or the scale of domestic opposition to his invasion.

It shows that “thanks to these disastrous miscalculations, Putin now finds himself with no good options for ending a war that threatens to accelerate Russia’s geopolitical decline as a great power.”

Russia has few friends left on the world stage, with the invasion almost universally condemned, and even Russia’s ally China appears uneasy about the potentially drawn-out conflict in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy.

Observers say there are increasing signs of desperation within the Russian military campaign and have questioned how far Putin can go to achieve his goals.

NATO estimated that about 40,000 Russian soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or missing during the first month of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, a NATO official confirmed to NBC News.

The official told the network that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers were killed, according to the latest NATO intelligence report.

The Russian offensive faces unexpected Ukrainian resistance, which complicates matters for the Kremlin, which has been used to achieving immediate military successes, from the 2014 annexation of Crimea to its intervention in Syria on the side of Bashar al-Assad.

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