Ukraine: Putin’s decision-making is similar to teenage knife criminals - professor

A professor has analysed Putin’s mindset on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine - and drawn some interesting parallels

An academic has drawn parallels between Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and teen knife criminals.

John R. Bryson, who is a Professor of Enterprise and Economic Geography at the University of Birmingham, has identified similar traits between Putin and teenage gang members as Ukraine continues to defend itself against the might of the Russian army.

The expert notes how teenagers who carry knives with intent to cause harm to others are, in fact, frightened young men who have a fragile self worth and are at their most dangerous when they are vulnerable.

As Putin has failed to overwhelm Ukraine immediately, he fears he could now be at his most dangerous.

Prof Bryson told our sister title BirminghamWorld: “There are many different readings of this crisis. One that is overlooked in current accounts is to equate Putin’s action with teenage knife crime.

“Many teenage gang members are frightened and traumatised young men and often the most vulnerable are the most dangerous. Putin’s failure to overwhelm Ukraine means that he is now extremely vulnerable and at his most dangerous.”

Vladimir Putin could face personal accountability for the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Picture: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Prof Bryson admits that not everyone would have thought to draw a comparison between Putin and teenage knife criminals, but he explains it is in fact quite an obvious parallel to consider - with the only real difference being the weapons at their disposal.

“This link to Putin and knife crime might seem strange,” he said.

“But these young men often have a fragile sense of self-worth and consequently any perception that they have been disrespected will lie behind their motivation for a knife attack and even murder.

An Ukrainian flag waves in front of smoke rising from a bombed warehouse in the town of Stoyanka, west of Kyiv, on March 4, 2022. - The UN Human Rights Council on March 4, 2022, overwhelmingly voted to create a top-level investigation into violations committed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. More than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, United Nations figures showed on March 4, 2022. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

What emotions could be affecting Putin’s decision-making?

Prof Bryson believes a feeling of disrespect is at the forefront of the emotions that could be affecting Putin’s decisions.

He said:  “In 2000, Putin experienced the first major crisis of his premiership. This was the sinking of the Kursk submarine.

“He handled this badly and from this he learnt that a key weapon was control over media discourse.

“Central to much of Putin’s rhetoric is a concern with his image and a sensitivity to any form of perceived disrespect. In Putin’s world he is always right.

“It is important to consider the narratives that emerge around the Ukrainian crisis.

“To Russia this is a ‘special operation’ that is not about occupying territory but about destroying military capabilities.

“Nevertheless, this illegal operation is similar to knife crime, because at its roots is a false perception that Putin and Russia have been disrespected.

“Putin’s perception of disrespect then leads to an illegal ‘military campaign’ in which 352 civilians, including 14 children, were killed in the first four days of the invasion.

“In addition, the lives of all Ukrainians have been disrupted with normal life ceasing.”

A full version of this article was published on our sister title, BirminghamWorld

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