Mark Pomar (Russian Institute ’76; Ph.D., Slavic Languages ’78; member Harriman National Advisory Council) published an op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican titled “Putin’s in a Corner: What Next?”
In his frank self-portrait — published as First Person in 2000 — Vladimir Putin explained how he came to understand the danger of being “cornered.” “My friends and I used to chase rats,” he recalled, and “once we drove a fat rat into a corner [who] had nowhere to run. Suddenly it threw itself at me and now the rat was chasing me.” But I was quicker and smarter, he added, and “managed to slam the door in its face.”
The import of the story: When completely cornered, you must attack but should also be mindful that your opponent may be just a bit more powerful. In his brutal, unprovoked war against Ukraine, Putin appears to have forgotten this childhood lesson and now finds himself in the role of the rat, cornered not once but twice.
Mark Pomar is senior fellow at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas. He is the author of a new book, Cold War Radio: The Russian Broadcasts of The Voice of American and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (University of Nebraska Press, October 2022).