Vindman: This is the 'beginning of the end' for Putin

Retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said that he believes the Russian invasion into Ukraine marked the "beginning of the end" for Russian President Vladimir Putin as casualties from the war grow.

On Wednesday, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that close to 500 of its soldiers have died in Ukraine. However, Ukraine has said that thousands of Russian soldiers have died in the conflict thus far.

Vindman, who fled Ukraine with his family when he was 3, said he thinks "this is the beginning of the end of Vladimir Putin" during an interview on the New York Times's podcast "The Argument."

"What we haven't started to bake in yet, and what the Russian public hasn't start to bake in, is this devastating human toll. This is the fact that Ukrainian cities are being bombarded. Civilians are being killed."

"And if, in fact, there are 4,500 Russian dead and those body bags start coming back, or mothers start to ask about their children, that's going to be untenable," he said.

Vindman said he believes that the Russian leader made a series of miscalculations when he decided to invade the former Soviet nation one week ago.

"I don't think he cared that much, but that was another major miscalculation. You make decisions based on assumptions. A fundamental assumption was that the Ukrainians would roll over. A fundamental assumption was that the West would be weak in its response," Vindman told podcast host Jane Coaston.

"A fundamental assumption would be that the Russian population would take it because security services and repression of dissent," he continued. "Those are three massive, massive miscalculations."

Putin announced a military operation into Ukraine on Feb. 24, sparking outrage from the international community.

Since then, the United States and its Western allies have come together, making good on their promise to levy crushing economic sanctions against Russia.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced that it would be restricting exports of key technologies to Belarus, which has been aiding Russia, and leveled new sanctions against Russia's defense sector.

The U.S. has also sanctioned Putin himself, along with wealthy Russians with close ties to the Kremlin.

Other European countries have banned Russian flights from their airspace and targeted Russia billionaires with assets in their countries.

Vindman said that Putin had a "deep misunderstanding" of the West's willingness to defend its interests and a misunderstanding of the ability of Ukraine to defend itself.

"And all of these things coming together into a huge, huge trap for Vladimir Putin. He's consolidated the entire free world against him in condemnation and inaction," he said.

"So that's the sanctions that are unfolding and these weapons provisions that are unfolding. And that's something that, ultimately, he might be remembered for, both this horrendous war, but also for bringing the democratic world together in defense of our values," Vindman continued.

In the week that followed Putin's announcement of a military operation, Ukrainian forces have slowed Russia's attacks. Videos on social media have circulated showing Ukrainians lining up to receive firearms and preparing Molotov cocktails to defend their homes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also emerged as a figure of resolve and determination, updating his citizens and the globe daily via Twitter on the country's war against Russia.