When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, nobody in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle is believed to have expected the war to last more than a few months. As the weather turns cold once again, and back to the freezing and muddy conditions that Russia’s invading forces experienced at the start of the war, Moscow faces what’s likely to be months more fighting, military losses and potential defeat.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, nobody in President Vladimir Putin’s inner
circle is believed to have expected the war to last more than a few months.
weather turns cold once again, and back to the freezing and muddy conditions
that Russia’s invading forces experienced at the start of the conflict, Moscow
faces what’s likely to be months more fighting, military losses and potential
Russian political analysts say, will be catastrophic for Putin and the Kremlin,
who have banked Russia’s global capital on winning the war against Ukraine.
They told CNBC that anxiety was rising in Moscow over how the war was
September, I see a lot of changes [in Russia] and a lot of fears,” Tatiana
Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace and founder and head of political analysis firm R.Politik, told CNBC.
first time since the war started people are beginning to consider the worst-case
scenario, that Russia can lose, and they don’t see and don’t understand how
Russia can get out from this conflict without being destroyed. People are very
anxious, they believe that what is going on is a disaster,” she said Monday.
has tried to distance himself from a series of humiliating defeats on the
battlefield for Russia, first with the withdrawal from the Kyiv region in
northern Ukraine, then the withdrawal from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine and
recently, the withdrawal from a chunk of Kherson in southern Ukraine, a region
that Putin had said was Russia’s “forever” only six weeks before the retreat.
Needless to say, that latest withdrawal darkened the mood even among the most
ardent Putin supporters.
seismic events in the war have also been accompanied by smaller but significant
losses of face for Russia, such as the attack on the Crimean bridge linking the
Russian mainland to the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, attacks
on its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea and the withdrawal from Snake Island.
commentators and military bloggers have lambasted Russia’s military command for
the series of defeats while most have been careful not to criticize Putin
directly, a dangerous move in a country where criticizing the war (or “special
military operation” as the Kremlin calls it) can land people in prison.
Russian analyst said Putin is increasingly desperate not to lose the war.
very fact that Russia is still waging this war, despite its apparent defeats in
March [when its forces withdrew from Kyiv], indicate that Putin is desperate to
not lose. Losing is not an option for him,” Ilya Matveev, a political scientist
and academic formerly based in St. Petersburg, told CNBC on Monday.
that already everyone, including Putin, realized that even tactical nuclear
weapons will not solve the problem for Russia. They cannot just stop [the]
military advances of [the] Ukrainian army, it’s impossible. Tactical weapons
... cannot decisively change [the] situation on the ground.”
more ‘vulnerable’ than ever
widely seen to have misjudged international support for Ukraine going in to the
war, and has looked increasingly fallible — and vulnerable — as the conflict
drags on and losses mount.
says more than 88,000 Russian troops have been killed since the war started on
Feb. 24, although the true number is hard to verify given the chaotic nature of
recording deaths. For its part, Russia has rarely published its version of
Russian fatalities but the number is far lower. In September, Russia’s defense
minister said almost 6,000 of its troops had been killed in Ukraine.
the moment on 24th of February, Putin launched this war, he has become more
vulnerable than he has ever been,” R.Politik’s Stanovaya said.
step makes him more and more vulnerable. In fact, in [the] long term, I don’t
see a scenario where he could be a winner. There is no scenario where he can
win. In some ways, we can say that he is politically doomed,” she said Monday.
course, if tomorrow, let’s imagine some fantasy that Zelenskyy says, ‘OK, we
have to capitulate, we sign all the demands by Russia,’ then in this case we
can say that Putin can have a little chance to restore his leadership inside of
Russia, but it will not happen.”
expect new failures, new setbacks,” she said.
will not give up’
the war has certainly not gone Moscow’s way so far — it’s believed that Putin’s
military commanders had led the president to believe that the war would only
last a couple of weeks and that Ukraine would be easily overwhelmed — Russia
has certainly inflicted massive damage and destruction.
villages, towns and cities have been shelled relentlessly, killing civilians
and destroying civilian infrastructure and prompting millions of people to flee
those who have stayed, the recent Russian strategy of widespread bombing of
energy infrastructure across the country has made for extremely hostile living
conditions with power blackouts a daily occurrence as well as general energy
and water shortages, just as temperatures plummet.
has launched more than 16,000 missiles attacks on Ukraine since the start its
invasion, Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said Monday, with 97%
of these strikes aimed at civilian targets, he said via Twitter.
has acknowledged deliberately targeting energy infrastructure but has
repeatedly denied targeting civilian infrastructure such as residential
buildings, schools and hospitals. These kinds of buildings have been struck by
Russian missiles and drones on multiple occasions throughout the war, however,
leading to civilian deaths and injuries.
winter sets in, political and military analysts have questioned what will
happen in Ukraine, whether we will see a last push before a period of stalemate
sets in, or whether the current attritional battles, with neither side making
large advances, continues.
of Ukraine, namely the area around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, where fierce
fighting has been taking place for weeks, has recently been likened to the
Battle of Verdun in World War I with Russian and Ukrainian troops inhabiting
boggy, flooded trenches and the scarred landscape is reminiscent of the
fighting on the Western Front in France a century ago.
unlikely to be deterred by any war of attrition, analysts note.
see Putin, he would not give up. He would not reject his initial goals in this
war. He believes and will believe in Ukraine that will give up one day, so he
will not step back,” R.Politik’s Stanovaya said, adding that this leaves only
two scenarios for how the war might end.
first one is that the regime in Ukraine changes, but I don’t really believe
[that will happen]. And the second one if the regime in Russia changes, but it
will not happen tomorrow, it might take maybe one or two years,” she said.
Russia changes politically, it will review and rethink its goals in Ukraine,”
best scenario for Putin’s regime, Stanovaya said Russia will be able “to secure
at least a minimum of gains it can take from Ukraine.” In the worst-case
scenario, “it will have to retreat completely and with all [the] consequences
for [the] Russian state and Russian economy.”
and Video: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/11/29/putin-is-desperate-not-to-lose-russian-experts-assess-ukraine-war.html