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Opinion
John Authers

Russia’s Other War of Attrition Is Against Europe

Making the other side suffer beyond its breaking point worked against Napoleon and Hitler. Putin will try the same strategy to defeat the EU in its support for Ukraine, using energy dependency.

Bonaparte’s retreat. This time, Moscow wields Europe’s energy dependency to inflict economic attrition.

Bonaparte’s retreat. This time, Moscow wields Europe’s energy dependency to inflict economic attrition.

Photograph: From an etching after the original work by Adolph Norton/Hulton Archive/Getty

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Russia’s greatest military victories came in wars of attrition. Russians soaked up appalling damage at the hands of Napoleon and Hitler, outlasted them, and then pushed both back. The current war might also turn into one of attrition. Vladimir Putin showed in Chechnya his preparedness to keep inflicting pain on his adversaries, and he might yet repeat the trick in Ukraine.