War in Ukraine: How it affects Putin's future in Russia

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, is pictured performing on stage at a concert in Moscow, Russia, on Februa...

I keep recalling a comment I heard on Russian state television three years ago.

Russians were urged to support constitutional amendments at the time that would have allowed Vladimir Putin to serve a further 16 years in office.

The news anchor used President Putin's persona of a sea captain navigating the good ship Russia through turbulent international waters to persuade the audience.

He continued, "Russia is an oasis of stability, a safe harbor. What would have happened to us if Putin hadn't been there?

So much for being a stable haven and oasis. The Kremlin captain departed in a storm he had created on February 24, 2022. and made a beeline for the iceberg.

Ukraine has been devastated and killed as a result of Vladimir Putin's invasion. Large-scale military casualties have been sustained by his own nation as a result; some estimates place the number of dead Russian soldiers in the tens of thousands.

Numerous prisoners from Russia, including those with murder convictions, have been recruited to fight in Ukraine, along with hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens. In the meantime, the war is threatening security in Europe and around the world and has an impact on global energy and food prices.

Titanic scale issues all around.

Why then did Russia's president decide to embark on a war of conquest?

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C-L) and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (C-R) attend a ceremony in the Alexander Garden to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia, 23 February 2023.
On Thursday to commemorate Defender of the Fatherland Day, Mr. Putin attended a military ceremony.

Political scientist Ekaterina Shulman observes, "On the horizon were the Russian presidential elections of 2024.".

"Two years prior to that election, [the Kremlin] desired some successful event. They'd succeed in their goals in 2022. The Russian people would realize in 2023 how fortunate they were to have such a captain guiding the ship through not only choppy waters but also bringing them to new and prosperous shores. Voting would take place in 2024. Bingo. What might go wrong?

A lot, if your plans are founded on incorrect assumptions and calculations.

The Kremlin had anticipated that its "special military operation" would move quickly. It believed that Ukraine would be back in Russia's orbit in a matter of weeks. President Putin had greatly underestimated both Ukraine's ability to fight back and resist and the willingness of Western countries to stand by Kiev.

The president of Russia has not yet admitted that invading Ukraine was a mistake. The way of Mr. Putin is to continue, intensify, and raise the stakes.

I now want to address two important issues: how does Vladimir Putin feel about the situation now that a year has passed, and what will he do about Ukraine next?

He gave us some hints this week.

He railed against the West in his state of the nation speech. He continues to paint Russia as the innocent party and blame America and NATO for the conflict in Ukraine. President Putin has made it clear that he has no plans to leave Ukraine or end the standoff with the West by suspending his country's participation in the last nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the United States, known as New Start.

The next day, Russian soldiers who had returned from the front lines shared the stage with Mr. Putin at a Moscow football stadium. At a carefully orchestrated rally in support of the Kremlin, President Putin told the crowd that "battles are taking place right now on [Russia's] historical frontiers" and praised the country's "courageous warriors.".   .

In conclusion, don't look for any Kremlin about-faces. This Russian president will not change.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on stage at a concert at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia February 22, 2023.
At a rally on Wednesday in a football stadium, Vladimir Putin addressed crowds of people waving flags.

Andrei Illarionov, a former economic adviser to President Putin, predicts that he will go as far as he can if there is no opposition. Other than through military resistance, there is no other way to stop him. ".

But what about negotiations over tanks? Can we reach a peace agreement with Mr. Putin?

Andrei Illarionov continues, "It's possible to sit down with anyone, but we have a track record of doing so with Putin and coming to agreements with him.

"Putin broke every rule in every document. The declaration establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States, the bilateral treaty between Ukraine and Russia, the agreement defining their mutually acknowledged border, the UN charter, the 1975 Helsinki Act, and the Budapest Memorandum. and so forth. No legal document would escape his violation. ".

The Russian government has a long list of grievances against the West for breaking agreements that they have made. Moscow claims that the West violated a commitment it made to keep in the 1990s by expanding the Nato alliance eastward.

Yet in his early years in office, Vladimir Putin gave the impression that he did not see NATO as a threat. He even did not rule out Russia joining the Alliance in the future in 2000. President Putin responded when asked about Ukraine's stated desire to join NATO two years later: "Ukraine is a sovereign state and is entitled to choose itself how to ensure its own security..." He insisted the matter would not affect relations between Moscow and Kyiv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address at the Gostiny Dvor conference centre in central Moscow on 21 February 2023
The president of Russia gave his yearly address to the nation on Tuesday.

The Putin of 2023 is a very different person. Inflamed with resentment toward the "collective West," he portrays himself as the fortress's commander, fending off the alleged attempts of Russia's adversaries to overthrow his government. From his speeches and remarks, as well as his allusions to Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, two imperial Russian rulers, Mr. Putin seems to believe he is destined to recreate the Russian empire in some way.

President Putin used to have a reputation for bringing stability to Russia, but at what cost? In the midst of escalating military casualties, mobilization, and sanctions, that has vanished. Since the war began, hundreds of thousands of Russians—many of them young, skilled, and educated—have left the nation; this brain drain will further harm Russia's economy.

The war has caused a sudden increase in the number of armed groups in the area, including local battalions and private military firms like Yevgeny Prigozhin's Wagner group. The regular armed forces and the government are not on the best of terms. An illustration of open infighting among the elites is the conflict between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defense.

A dangerous combination is instability plus private armies.

According to Konstantin Remchukov, the publisher and editor of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper in Moscow, "Civil war is likely to cover Russia for the next decade.". "Too many interest groups are aware that wealth redistribution is a possibility under these circumstances. ".

"If the ideal candidate takes office right away after Putin, there will be a real chance to avoid civil war. one who has influence among the elites and the tenacity to sever ties with those who would seek to take advantage of the circumstance. ".

Konstantin Remchukov, Chief Editor, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, sits in front of a desk.
Konstantin Remchukov, editor of a newspaper, worries that civil war is coming to Russia.

Konstantin responds, "Are the Russian elites debating who the right man or woman is?

"Quietly. minus the lights. They do speak about this. They'll be able to speak up. ".

And does Putin know that these conversations are taking place?

"He's aware. In my opinion, he is fully informed. ".

"As long as Putin is in office, Russia exists," said the lower house of the Russian parliament's speaker this week. " .

It was a pledge of allegiance, not an assertion of fact. Russia will endure; it has done so for many years. However, the outcome of the war in Ukraine is now inextricably linked to Vladimir Putin's fate.

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