How Putin's future is connected to Russia's war in Ukraine

On stage at a concert at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, on February 22, 2023, is the Russian President Vl...

I keep remembering something I heard three years ago on Russian state television.

At the time, Russians were urged to support constitutional amendments that would allow Vladimir Putin to continue in office for an additional 16 years.

The news anchor portrayed President Putin as a sea captain navigating the good ship Russia through rough seas of international unrest in order to win over the public.

He continued, "Russia is a safe harbor, a haven of stability. "If Putin hadn't been there, what would have happened to us?".

So much for a haven of security and stability. The Kremlin captain set out in a storm of his own making on February 24, 2022. and made a direct course for the iceberg.

The invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin has devastated and killed its neighbor. His own nation has suffered significant military losses as a result; some estimates place the number of dead Russian soldiers in the tens of thousands.

Russian prisoners, including those with murder convictions, have been recruited to fight in Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens have been drafted into the army. The war is still a threat to the security of Europe and the world, and it has an impact on global energy and food prices.

They are all Titanic-sized issues.

So why did the president of Russia 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, Mr. Putin participated in a military ceremony honoring Defender of the Fatherland Day.

Political scientist Ekaterina Shulman notes that the Russian presidential elections of 2024 were approaching.

"The Kremlin desired some successful event two years prior to that vote. They would accomplish their goals in 2022. In 2023, they would ingrain in Russians' minds their gratitude for having such a captain steer the ship through not only choppy waters but also to new and prosperous shores. Then, elections would be held in 2024. Bingo. What could possibly fail?

If your plans are based on incorrect assumptions and calculations, there are many.

The Kremlin had anticipated a lightning-fast "special military operation.". It believed that Ukraine would re-enter Russia's orbit within a few weeks. President Putin had greatly underestimated both the will of Western countries to stand by Kiev as well as Ukraine's ability to resist and fight back.

However, the leader of Russia has yet to admit that invading Ukraine was a mistake. Pushing forward, escalating, and raising the stakes is Mr. Putin's strategy.

Which brings me to my next two main points: how does Vladimir Putin currently feel about the situation after a year, and what will be his next course of action in Ukraine?

He provided some hints to us this week.

His state of the nation speech was filled with venom against the West. He continues to paint Russia as the innocent party and attribute the war in Ukraine to the United States and NATO. President Putin's choice to halt participation in New Start, the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the United States, demonstrates that he has no plans to withdraw from Ukraine or end his standoff with the West.

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

Therefore, don't anticipate any Kremlin U-turns. This Russian leader is not one to change.

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

The former economic advisor to President Putin, Andrei Illarionov, predicts that he will advance as far as possible if there is no opposition. "Military resistance is the only other option to stop him. ".

Is it possible to negotiate peace with Mr. Putin over tank talks?

However, Andrei Illarionov continues, "we have a history of sitting down with Putin and reaching agreements with him. It's possible to sit down with anyone.

"Putin broke every rule in the book. The declaration establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States, the bilateral treaty between Russia and Ukraine, the agreement defining their mutually acknowledged border, the UN charter, the Helsinki Act of 1975, and the Budapest Memorandum are all examples of international agreements. so forth. He would violate any legal document. ".

The Russian government has a long list of grievances against the West that relate to breaking agreements. Moscow claims that the West broke a promise it made in the 1990s not to expand the Nato alliance eastward, and that claim tops the list.

In spite of this, Vladimir Putin didn't seem to see NATO as a threat in his early years in office. Even in 2000, he did not rule out the possibility of Russia joining the Alliance in the future. President Putin responded, "Ukraine is a sovereign state and is entitled to choose itself how to ensure its own security," when asked about Ukraine's stated intention to join NATO two years later. 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 Russian president gave his yearly state of the nation address on Tuesday.

Putin in 2023 will be a very different person. He portrays himself as the ruler of a besieged fortress, repelling the alleged attempts of Russia's enemies to destroy his country, and is raging with resentment toward the "collective West.". Mr. Putin seems to believe that he is destined to recreate the Russian empire in some way based on his speeches and comments, as well as his references to imperial Russian rulers like Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.

President Putin once gained a reputation for bringing stability to his nation, but at what cost to Russia? That has vanished in the face of increasing military casualties, mobilization, and sanctions. Since the start of the war, a few hundred thousand Russians have left the nation, many of them young, skilled, and educated; this brain drain will further harm Russia's economy.

The war has suddenly resulted in a proliferation of armed groups, including regional battalions and private military firms like Yevgeny Prigozhin's Wagner group. The regular armed forces and the civilian population do not get along well. A public example of elite infighting is the dispute between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Private armies combined with instability is a lethal combination.

Russian civil war is likely to last for the ensuing ten years, according to Konstantin Remchukov, publisher and editor of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper in Moscow. "Too many interest groups are aware of the opportunity for wealth redistribution under these circumstances. ".

If the ideal candidate succeeds Putin as president right away, there will be a real chance to prevent civil war. a person with influence among the elites and the determination to sever ties with those seeking to take advantage of the circumstance. ".

Konstantin Remchukov, Chief Editor, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, sits in front of a desk.
Russian civil war, according to newspaper editor Konstantin Remchukov, is imminent.

I ask Konstantin, "Are the Russian elites discussing who the right man or woman is?".

"Quietly. with no illumination. They do talk about it. Their voice will be heard. ".

And is Putin aware that these discussions are taking place?

He is aware. I believe he is fully informed. ".

As of this week, Putin is the president of Russia, according to the lower house of the Russian parliament's speaker. " .

It wasn't a statement of fact, just a pledge of loyalty. Russia will endure because it has done so historically. But the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine now irrevocably determines Vladimir Putin's fate.

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