Putin, Time’s Up

Whatever the eventual military outcome, the invasion of Ukraine is a disaster for Russia. It has already incurred substantial military losses. If the Russians conquer the Ukrainian cities, the cost of holding them will escalate, with a guerilla/resistance movement continuing to fight using an abundant supply of arms from the EU and NATO countries. Ukraine will become Russia’s twenty-first century Afghanistan.

Russia will remain an international pariah, subjected to an economic boycott that has frozen much of its foreign exchange reserves and the assets of its oligarchs. Travel between Russia and much of the world has already ceased. Trade with the west is collapsing. Russia’s currency and capital markets will no longer function. Russia and Russians will be excluded from international culture and athletics.

Faced with so much disruption in their daily lives, Russians will not believe the disinformation the regime will disseminate. Widespread access to western media will amplify the message of Russian failure.

Regime Change

Were Russia a democracy, it would now have a moment in its parliament reminiscent of the 1940 confidence debate in the UK, when Tory MP Leo Amery flung at Neville Chamberlain Oliver Cromwell’s words: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

This will not happen in the Duma. Russia is a dictatorship. In a dictatorship, regime change happens by coup d’etat, either peaceful or violent. In the Soviet Union, Stalin’s illness led to a power struggle in the politburo. Khrushchev was quietly deposed in 1964 and allowed to retire.

Without expert or better still inside knowledge of power in the Kremlin, one can hardly predict how Putin’s regime will end. Because Putin has centralized power and appears to be acting irrationally, a quiet coup comparable to that which replaced Khrushchev appears unlikely. Perhaps the oligarchs will try to convince Putin to leave quietly. If he is adamant about remaining, they may conspire with dissidents in the government and the military. If Putin wants to bring down the temple around him, those with a greater and wiser love for their country and its future will have to stop him. The rest of world is providing the pressure, but Russians themselves will have to act.

2 comments

  1. Hopefully, the Russians will have the bravery like that of Indonesians in 1998, when they forced out Suharto!

  2. I realize that this is not going to be a popular view, but I wonder who among the western leaders has the courage of Adlai Stevenson in 1962 to be the “coward in the room”. In other words, who will tell the Ukrainians that however bravely they resist, the outcome is inevitable and they should take the best deal that Russia will give them. The more they resist the greater the damage to their country and the eventual political outcome won’t get any better.
    I realize that the west would like to prolong this to inflict as much damage on Russia as possible to teach it a lesson, but let us be clear eyed that this is at the expense of Ukrainian lives and infrastructure.
    France is often treated with scorn, but it recognized the inevitable in 1940 and capitulated, preserving its great cities and avoiding even greater loss of life.

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