Ukraine: Putin will search for a way to save face

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In 1939, Joseph Stalin invaded Finland, which had once been part of the Russian empire. He was sure his troops would carve their way through it in no time – just as Putin thought about Ukraine in 2022. Stalin’s generals, understandably terrified for their lives, promised him he was right. And, of course, he wasn’t. The Winter War dragged on into 1940, the Soviet army was humiliated, and Finland was left with a justifiable national pride in itself for resisting a superpower. It lost territory, because autocrats like Stalin and Putin need to come out of these things looking as though they’ve scored a victory. But Finland kept the most important, most imperishable thing: its full independence as a free, self-determining nation.

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