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War in Ukraine : The Advantages of Putin's Regime ... And his Greatest Fear

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

For the Putin regime, the main objective would now be to freeze the conflict. There is an urgent need for rearmament, reorganization and restructuring of the economy. Last year's disasters put Putin in a difficult situation, his goals of conquering Kyiv, regime change, etc. are no longer possible (for the moment anyway). But he still has an advantage... as long as he doesn't lose he can continue this War. This is a great paradox… The West and Ukraine have no interest in the conflict continuing whereas for Putin, time is not really a problem (unless the economy was to go down and collapse, creating a revolutionary context capable of ending his reign).

Of course, Putin is desperate for some sort of victory on the battlefield (hence his stubbornness in Bakhmut) because if he gets one, he can claim to have achieved his goal. If he succeeds in conquering Sloviansk, he can claim to have “liberated” the Donbass and thus be able to freeze the conflict for a time. Now it remains to be seen whether this freeze would be temporary or permanent. I personally think that it will be temporary because Putin, once his forces are reconstituted (ammunition, personnel, etc…) will go back on the offensive, I am sure of it.

The question of Russia's ability to equip, mobilize troops and keep its economy afloat are the main issues for the Russian Government in 2023. And it is in order to focus on these issues that the freezing of the front is so crucial for Putin. But if the front does not collapse, and if the ever-increasing repressions succeed in keeping the Russian population on their knees, the continuation of hostilities does not pose any problems for the maintenance of the regime, on the contrary, they strengthen it. Putin can continue to play his role as war leader, and the state of emergency will continue to justify internal coercive measures and external economic hardship.

This is a considerable advantage … If nothing else disturbs the horizon. Because a rise of discontent in Russia, a disaster on the front, a deep economic crisis, a revolt of the elites or the disillusionment of the population can bring what Putin fears most: a Revolution. This is why his gaze is focused on means to crush it. This is the greatest danger for him. It is his obsession. Maintaining the conflict, paired with a freeze on the front is Putin's top priority to stay in power.

We are therefore faced with a situation in which the Ukrainians need to win quickly or see a Revolution break out in Russia, whereas for Putin the essential thing is to hold out over time, freeze the conflict and crush the Revolution before it breaks out while maintaining pressure on Ukraine. The advantage seems to turn to Putin on the front given the mobilization and the lessons learned by the Russian command from the mistakes of the year 2022. Only a Revolution can 100% guarantee a defeat for Putin.

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