Russia expert: Putin 'cornered like a rat' and will do whatever necessary to lash out
Journalist Kirill Martynov tells Fox News' Amy Kellogg about what it's like in Moscow amid the war in Ukraine.NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Russian President Vladimir Putin is feeling "cornered like a rat" as his Ukrainian invasion lingers into its third week, a former U.S. intelligence officer told Fox News Digital, and his personal history suggests he will continue to lash out in order to regain the upper hand.
Rebekah Koffler, a former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency agent and author of "Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America", told Fox News Digital on Saturday that an excerpt from Putin’s 2000 autobiography "First Person" detailing growing up in a dilapidated Leningrad apartment can be applied to his record as the Russian leader and his current invasion of Ukraine.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses the media during a press conference after the U.S.-Russia summit with U.S. President Joe Biden at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Denis Balibouse/Pool Photo via AP)
Putin describes in his book having to traverse several rat infested floors to get to his childhood apartment and that one day he wrote that he grabbed a stick and chased a large rat into a corner. When the rat realized he was trapped, he attacked young Putin forcing him to run away in a moment that apparently impacted the future Russian president.
Koffler said that the childhood story about the rat, and other stories Putin has approved to be told about his personal life, are a conscious effort to convey to the West that he will always strike back when trapped.
"He wants people to know that when cornered, he will be fighting," Koffler told Fox News. "He will not be surrendering."
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to female flight attendants in comments broadcast on state television on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Image: Reuters Video) (Reuters Video)
In another biography, "Vladimir Putin: Life History", Putin is quoted as saying that he learned through neighborhood fights as a child that "you have to fight to the finish line in every fight" and "you need to assume that there is no retreat."
Putin’s predicament began when, according to Koffler, he "miscalculated" two major issues related to invading Ukraine by not factoring in the Ukrainian people’s will to fight and the role technology would play in bringing the images of destruction to households across the world.
"He definitely miscalculated and now he feels that he’s trapped because he has to execute this operation and reach his goal."
Koffler explained that Putin watched in horror as the U.S. toppled regimes in Libya and Iraq and fears he might meet the same fate, especially when he hears American leaders claim that he is a deranged madman and call for him to be assassinated by his inner circle.
Part of the reason Putin is feeling the pressure regardless of any short term victories he may see on the battlefield is that the Russian leader views this fight with Ukraine as a fight for the survival of his country.
Author Zbigniew Brzezinski writes in his book "The Grand Chessboard" that "he who controls Eurasia controls the world" and Koffler says that Putin very much believes in that notion while also believing that the United States feels the same way.
"They know it's not about who controls Ukraine at all," Koffler said. "It’s about who controls Eurasia and who controls the world. This is why you see Putin fighting for his life, for survivability."
Gutted cars following a night air raid in the village of Bushiv, 40 kilometers west of Kyiv, Ukraine (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Another factor to consider when discussing the pressure Putin feels, Koffler says, is the current proximity of NATO forces to Russia’s large cities. Koffler explained that during the Cold War, the distance between St. Petersburg and NATO forces was roughly 1,000 miles. Today, that distance is roughly 100 miles.
"By Russian military calculations, they just can't afford this sort of thing because it's a military threat," Koffler said.
All of those issues, Koffler says, suggest Putin feels trapped and will lash out in any way he can in order to get out of the proverbial corner which includes cyberattacks, satellite disruption, bombing civilian areas, and using his nuclear capabilities if "push comes to shove."
"He will run his troops into the ground," Koffler said, adding that he will "level Kyiv" if he feels that is "what he needs to do."