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Response to Putin’s Speech
As we heard earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had no choice but to invade Ukraine in his Victory Day speech (CNN).
Syracuse University’s Mark Jacobson has responded to this speech (see below). Jacobson is the assistant dean of Washington programs in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Over the past two decades, he held multiple roles at the Department of Defense including as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense and to the Secretary of the Navy as well serving as the first Deputy NATO Senior Civilian Representative – Afghanistan. He has also worked on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee and as a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Jacobson also spent 26 years as a military reservist with time as an Army psychological operations specialist and a Navy human intelligence officer.
Jacobson, a military historian by training, focuses on the history of psychological and political warfare and maintains a healthy interest in current issues of disinformation. He is co-curator of Active-Measures newsletter, a weekly digest of articles on propaganda and disinformation.
In response to the speech, Jacobson writes:
“While Putin did not go as far as some thought he might and formally declare war on Ukraine, he nevertheless used the annual Victory Day parade in Red Square to paint the Russian invasion of Ukraine within the context of the ‘Great Patriotic War,’ the Russian name for the Second World War. Evoking the Russian defense against the Nazi invasion in 1941, Putin described the invasion / ‘special military operation’ in similar terms – justifying it as a necessity to defend the Motherland. In particular Putin blamed NATO and went so far as to state that the West was planning to invade Russia.
While not addressing scope of the Russian military failures to date, Putin did acknowledge that Russian troops had been killed – stating that Russia would ‘do everything to take care of the families’ that had lost soldiers in Ukraine. While in some ways blasting the NATO alliance and the West was standard fare for a Victory Day speech, it indicates, unfortunately, that Putin has no intentions of ending the operation or sitting down for genuine peace negotiations. Indeed he doubled down on territorial claims noting that Russian forces would ‘liberate’ eastern Ukraine.
This is going to be a long war and the Biden Administration – while responding deftly to date – has a difficult line to walk in terms of avoiding a direct confrontation with the Russians, especially when the Russians will seek, to some degree, to provoke exactly that type of response.”
Members of the media who would like to interview Jacobson on this issue may contact:
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