The Washington Post

Russia’s final goal


Regarding the editorials “Staying the course on Ukraine” [July 10] and “The atrocity resumes” [July 20]:

As noted, Russian missiles, artillery and air attacks on civilian targets, including hospitals, schools, shelters and housing areas, have killed and wounded thousands of Ukrainians, including children. We could add the murder, rape and torture of civilians in Russian-occupied areas and the forced relocation of thousands of Ukrainians, including children, to Russia.

We should not be surprised. This is a continuati­on of the Soviet way of war. In an article in the July 2022 issue of the Journal of Military History, Dmitry Plotnikov described the strategy developed by Soviet military theorist Aleksandr Svechin that incorporat­es two concepts: annihilati­on and attrition.

Annihilati­on seeks the swift and decisive destructio­n of the enemy military forces that leaves their army and nation defenseles­s. Attrition seeks to weaken and outlast the enemy with limited interim military, economic and political goals until annihilati­on is possible or the enemy stops resisting.

Devastatio­n and terror inflicted on civilians have been integral to Russian military operations through World War II, Chechnya and Syria to Ukraine today. That, too, should not be a surprise. Condemnati­on and war crimes investigat­ions will have no deterrent effect.

As the editorials made clear, there is an urgent need and U.S. national security interest to continue to help Ukraine defeat Russia. With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s delusional ambition to reestablis­h some Russian empire, it’s unlikely he would stop with Ukraine. The cost to Russia must become too high for the Russian people to bear. Until then, stay the course.

Jerry Hardiman, Bethany Beach, Del.

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