Is Vladimir Putin (70) now interested in saving his skin? Or does he still think that it is possible to remove the Zelensky regime in Kyiv? And what can he achieve by terrorizing the Ukrainian people?
The questions are many. Experts do not give a clear answer.
Still, everyone agrees that the war has so far been a setback for Putin, and that he is now trying to show action – but the benefit of mobilizing 300,000 men is uncertain.
I don’t want to bet my savings on Putin’s disappearance anytime soon, Karen-Anna Eggen, a researcher at the Department of Defense Studies, tells VG.
– Putin’s strategy now is to survive! First of all himself, and secondly his system. But this does not mean that he will admit mistakes or give up. “Everything is going according to plan,” Joakim Paasikivi, a teacher at Swedish Försvarshögskolan, tells VG, but it is unclear what the plan is.
– Putin hopes to prolong the war, so that he can put the new forces in place – and they will be able to turn them in his favour. But until then we will see more terrorism against the Ukrainian people. There are no signs of Putin giving up, even if it looks bad for him now, war researcher Ilmari Kehko at the Alexandre Institute in Finland tells VG.
Will remove Zelenskyj
So Karin-Anna Egin believes that Putin is still sticking to the goals he had when he launched the invasion on February 24.
– I think the overall strategy remains.
– Also removed the order in Kyiv?
However, Eigen is clear that Putin realized that things did not go according to plan on the battlefield.
– Therefore, he had to make a number of choices that he probably wanted to avoid, such as mobilization and now a military emergency. He is gradually advancing and rhetorically preparing the population for war. It has to do with the fact that things did not go well for Russia on the battlefield. But this does not necessarily mean that they will lose. We don’t know the effect of mobilization in the long run.
Karen-Anna Eigen says Putin is “tightening the noose,” both at home and by escalating the conflict in Ukraine by destroying critical infrastructure on the way to the Ukrainian winter.
At home, he does allow some discussion, but is actively working to silence those voices that become extremists. Military bloggers, who are already supportive of the war, can also become a problem if they become too critical.
– I think that the measures that Putin carried out this fall show that he does not intend to surrender. From Putin’s point of view, it is not stupid to think that time can help. Winter will be a test for all of us. Things are going very badly for the Russians now, but this again opens up other avenues for action. Against Ukraine, against civilian targets, against us in the form of activism to scare us from providing more support to Ukraine.
– So you don’t think he’s thinking of saving himself and his system?
It must also be seen in this context, and in this sense it takes the necessary steps to show dynamism. Since Putin has put too many eggs in one basket, it’s also about regime survival, but I don’t think Putin is particularly concerned about his position, meaning he can still tighten the noose at home and escalate in Ukraine, he says. Karen-Anna Eigen.
Could Russia collapse?
On the other hand, Joakim Paasikivi of the Swedish University of Applied Sciences thinks so.
Putin has changed the objectives of the war several times. At first the goal was to replace the Nazi government and drug addicts in Kyiv, then stop the “genocide” in the Donbass – both wrong. Then merge the four regions of Ukraine by illegal annexation to say the borders are blurred…everything is so blurry.
What do you mean by Putin’s “survival” strategy?
By that I mean everything from the physical survival of the individual to the system, to the survival of Russia as the country it is today. All possibilities are here. I find it hard to imagine that Putin will be able to stay in office after the loss in Ukraine. If Russia loses right, there is also the danger of the country collapsing. There are a number of republics that wish to secede from the Russian Federation. Moreover, the economic situation will deteriorate. There will be an increased dependence on China, and there China is the strong party. They will take advantage of Russia.
Is Putin desperate?
– I don’t want to use the word despair. Perhaps he is cold and rational. But it doesn’t make a difference. The result will be the same. I don’t see any possibility that Russia will achieve its war aims and describe it as a victory. The only thing that has to be if Putin can divide Europe and make Ukraine weak by destroying civilian infrastructure – then get to the negotiating table and get the annexed territories. But I don’t think there is any possibility of that. I think neither Ukraine nor the West would agree with that, says Joachim Pacekevi for VG.
Winter or spring?
War researcher Elmari Kehko says 300,000 people were mobilized “enormous numbers of soldiers”, but the problem is that they are not yet available.
– At least until the winter before they can make new units, maybe in the spring. Then they will cast hundreds of thousands of soldiers to change the course of the war.
– Now the Russians expect setbacks in Kherson and the military situation is bad. They put their trust in mobilization. But bad driving, bad equipment – not least bad morale becomes a problem. And bad strategy. The Russian army has structural problems that the new forces could make worse.
On the other hand, Käihkö fears that Russia will continue its terror against Ukrainian civilians for a long time – by destroying power plants and other important infrastructure.
– There is talk that they received between 2,300 and 2,400 Iranian drones, which theoretically means that they can continue these attacks for a long time. It may have an effect on the Ukrainian population, but not on the war itself.
Does bombing drones have the desired effect on Putin?
– He is trying to bring Ukraine to its knees until the politicians surrender. So far, this terrorism has had the opposite effect on the Ukrainians – at the same time it brought more support from the West.
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