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Putin – no grandmaster at chess

David Niven once gave an interview to Michael Parkinson in which he observed that in Russia the national game was chess and in England it was football, meaning to imply that Russians thought better strategically.

If so, Vladimir Putin is a weak chess player.

In the 3 most defining moments of a chess game: opening, middle and end game he is deficient.

We might term his opening the Kyiv attack – a central thrust intending to cause immediate resignation.

However, his opponent did not resign but instead strengthened his central position, thereby causing Putin to withdraw his pieces and try an alternative  flank attack.

On his middle and end games, he has no clear strategy.

Even were he to take Ukraine, history tells us that occupation by a foreign power is no easy matter.

Underlying all of this is the fear his real opponent is not Ukraine, but NATO.

Yet, far from dividing it, NATO is stronger now with probably Finland and Sweden joining.