Vladimir Putin & Russia January 2023-

Written by  //  March 20, 2023  //  Russia  //  No comments

Vladimir Putin & Russia 2021-April 2022
The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)

17-20 March
After arrest warrant for Putin, Russia opens case against ICC
Russia’s Investigative Committee says the International Criminal Court has knowingly accused an innocent person of a crime, in another show of defiance against the court.
(Al Jazeera) Russia’s top investigative body has opened a criminal case against the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor and judges who issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges.
The move was announced on Monday by the state Investigative Committee in another gesture of Russian defiance, three days after the ICC accused Putin and his children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova of the war crime of deporting children from Ukraine to Russia.
ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin over war crimes in Ukraine
(WaPo) Judges for the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued on Friday arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another top Russian official — the court’s first such decision related to the war in Ukraine.
Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, bear individual responsibility for the war crimes of “unlawful deportation” and “unlawful transfer” of children from occupied areas of Ukraine after Russia invaded the country last year, the judges allege.

21 February
Russia plans Belarus ‘absorption’ by 2030 — media reports
(DW) A Russian presidential document was obtained by a group of international journalists from news organizations including Yahoo News and Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, who believe it to be authentic. It reportedly dates back to the summer of 2021
The document sets out a plan to infiltrate Belarus politically, economically and militarily. Plans are set out on different stages: short-term or until 2022, medium-term or until 2025 and long-term, meaning 2030.
The long-term plan translates into the formation of a common “union state” under Russian leadership.
Both countries are already formally part of a so-called “union state,” as per a 1999 agreement. The agreement sets a legal basis for integration between the two countries.
However, media outlets which obtained the document in question suggest Russia’s plans are more about annexing Belarus by 2030.

19 February
Putin, czar with no empire, needs military victory for his own survival
By Robyn Dixon and Catherine Belton
(WaPo) Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began with hubris and a zeal to reshape the world order. But even as he suffered repeated military defeats — diminishing his stature globally and staining him with allegations of atrocities being committed by his troops — Putin has tightened his authoritarian grip at home, using the war to destroy any opposition and to engineer a closed, paranoid society hostile to liberals, hipsters, LGBTQ people, and, especially, Western-style freedom and democracy.
The Russian president’s squadrons of cheerleaders swear he “simply cannot lose” in Ukraine, thanks to Russia’s vast energy wealth, nuclear weapons and sheer number of soldiers it can throw onto the battlefield. These supporters see Putin rising supreme from Ukraine’s ashes to lead a swaggering nation defined by its repudiation of the West — a bigger, more powerful version of Iran.
But business executives and state officials say Putin’s own position at the top could prove precarious as doubts over his tactics grow among the elite. For many of them, Putin’s gambit has unwound 30 years of progress made since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Putin’s vision of Russia horrifies many oligarchs and state officials, who confide that the war has been a catastrophic error that has failed in every goal. But they remain paralyzed, fearful and publicly silent.

18 February
Inside the stunning growth of Russia’s Wagner Group
Exclusive U.S. diplomatic cables and internal documents detail the expansion of the paramilitary force and global network led by a top Putin ally.
(Politico) American and European allies are mobilizing to thwart the rapid expansion of the Russian paramilitary group known as Wagner, run by a Putin-affiliated oligarch, as it captures key cities for Moscow in Ukraine and spreads its influence to Africa and other corners of the world.
With tens of thousands of fighters, many of them now battlefield-trained, the Wagner Group’s emergence as a rogue military threat could become a serious global challenge in years to come, U.S. and European officials said. …
The increasing power of Prigozhin in the shrinking inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin…is prompting Western governments to take steps to stave off a threat they calculate could potentially inflict wide-ranging national security and foreign policy consequences in the years to come.
…since Russia began targeting Ukraine, Wagner has recruited thousands of new troops to join its ranks on the battlefield, allowing the group to clinch military victories in the Donbas region, including the city of Soledar.

February 14-15
The Kremlin’s Grand Delusions
What the War in Ukraine Has Revealed About Putin’s Regime
By Fiona Hill and Angela Stent
(Foreign Affairs) Despite a series of blunders, miscalculations, and battlefield reversals that would have surely seen him thrown out of office in most normal countries, President Vladimir Putin is still at the pinnacle of power in Russia. He continues to define the contours of his country’s war against Ukraine. He is micromanaging the invasion even as generals beneath him appear to be in charge of the battlefield. (This deputizing is done to protect him from blowback if something goes badly wrong in the war.) Putin and those immediately around him directly work to mobilize Russians on the home front and manipulate public views of the invasion abroad. He has in some ways succeeded in this information warfare.
The war has revealed the full extent of Putin’s personalized political system. After what is now 23 years at the helm of the Russian state, there are no obvious checks on his power.
Since February 2022, the world has learned that Putin wants to create a new version of the Russian empire based on his Soviet-era preoccupations and his interpretations of history. The launching of the invasion itself has shown that his views of past events can provoke him to cause massive human suffering.
Russia’s new offensive will test the morale of Putin’s mobilized masses
Vladimir Putin is now desperate to demonstrate that his invasion is back on track and has reportedly massed huge reserves for a new push to overwhelm Ukraine’s defenses. However, after a year of catastrophic losses that has left many of Russia’s most prestigious military units seriously depleted, doubts remain over the ability of untested replacement troops to carry out large-scale offensive operations. …
Many mobilized Russians appear to be less than enthusiastic about their new role as the shock troops of Putin’s faltering invasion. Since the first week of February, a growing number of video appeals have been published on social media featuring groups of mobilized soldiers complaining about everything from a lack of basic military equipment to the suicidal orders of their superiors. In one fairly typical video, the wives and mothers of mobilized soldiers from Tatarstan claim their men are being used as “cannon fodder” in Ukraine.
With hundreds of thousands of mobilized Russians expected to take part in Putin’s big offensive, this emerging trend could pose a significant threat to the Kremlin. If current casualty rates are any indication, the coming attack could result in unprecedented loss of life and spark a complete collapse in morale among Russia’s already demoralized mobilized troops. This would make life very difficult for the Russian army in Ukraine, which would find itself confronted by a breakdown in discipline that would severely limit its ability to stage offensive operations. Nor is there any guarantee that the problems would stop there. Russia’s own experience in 1917 is a reminder of the unpredictable consequences that can follow when an army in wartime stops taking orders.

13 February
Man vs. Myth: Is Russia’s Prigozhin a Threat or Asset to Putin?
Tatiana Stanovaya
The Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is visibly transforming into a full-fledged politician with his own views, which are nothing short of revolutionary.
(Carnegie Endowment) As long as Putin is relatively strong and capable of maintaining the balance between various groups of influence, Prigozhin is not dangerous. But the slightest change could prompt Prigozhin to challenge the authorities: perhaps not Putin himself, at first. War makes monsters of men, and their recklessness and desperation can become a challenge to the state if it shows even the slightest sign of weakness.
Prigozhin’s unique chance arose following the annexation of Crimea. The conflicts in both the Donbas and then Syria, plus Russia’s standoff with the West, meant that a market emerged for “gray” geopolitical tactics that unwieldy official institutions would struggle to deliver. Prigozhin started using informal tools of influence—mercenaries and media mechanisms such as troll factories—that were new to Russia and enabled it to operate out of sight and without being held accountable.
Prigozhin had hit the mother lode: if the state was unable to effectively solve certain tasks (or simply did not want to be seen doing so), these quasi-state tools could fill the gap. Putin liked this approach, which is also in demand in the war against Ukraine.

7 February
Moscow’s Original “Special Operation”: Why Russia Is Staying in Syria
Nikita Smagin
Russia has no plans to leave Syria, but is increasingly unwilling to intervene in the country’s domestic affairs, whether militarily or financially.
(Carnegie Endowment) The Russian invasion of Ukraine has completely eclipsed Russia’s other military operation: Syria. It’s not just television coverage that has been diverted from the Middle East to Ukraine, but Russian troops and resources, too.
In recent months, Russia has reduced the number of its troops in Syria, ceded control over territory, and reduced humanitarian aid. That’s not to say, however, that it is leaving the country. Moscow still considers its presence in Syria a valuable asset, and sees its alliance with Damascus as an important bargaining chip in talks with the West.

4 February
Could this man replace Putin? Hear Russian journalist’s answer
Yevgeny Prigozhin, who leads a major mercenary force fighting in Ukraine called the Wagner Group, is rising in power, but could he replace Russian President Vladimir Putin? Russian investigative journalist Mikhail Zygar discusses with CNN anchor Erin Burnett.
The man with his own army (9 November 2022)

24 January
Are we seeing the beginning of the end of Putinism?
By Michael McFaul
(WaPo Opinion) Wartime leaders change generals when they’re losing, not winning. On Jan. 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, was to replace Sergei Surovikin, who was appointed just a few months earlier in October….
This shake-up at the top of the military is not the only sign of Putin’s recognition of failure. He canceled his annual end-of-year news conference, evidently reluctant to take questions even from a mostly loyal and controlled press corps. His solitary and subdued appearance at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Kremlin on Orthodox Christmas communicated little confidence.
His propagandists sound depressed. Strikingly, one of them, Sergei Markov, summed up the previous year by stating bluntly, “The USA was the main winner of 2022. Especially Biden.” Newspaper reporter Maksim Yusin recently said on a talk show that Russia’s “special military operation” had achieved none of its original goals. Former Putin adviser Sergei Glazyev lamented in public that Russia does not have a clear end objective, a sound ideology or the resources to win the war against the collective West.
… Putin’s societal support is soft and declining. Public opinion polls show he still enjoys popular support. But these polls in Russia have high refusal rates, which should not be surprising in a country where you can go to jail for 15 years for “public dissemination of deliberate false information about the use of Russian Armed Forces.” The minority responding to these polls supports the regime, but the majority who choose not to respond likely do not. And even these highly flawed polls show little enthusiasm and declining support for the war, and a solid majority ready to support Putin if he ends the invasion. Anxiety about the conflict is growing. And the demographics of his support are clear: The older, more rural, less educated and poorer support Putin in greater numbers than the younger, more urban, more educated, wealthier Russians. Putin is losing the future.
Putin’s Last Stand – The Promise and Peril of Russian Defeat
By Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage
(Foreign Affairs January/February 2023) … It…appears that Russia is headed for defeat. Less certain is what form this defeat will take. Three basic scenarios exist, and each one would have different ramifications for policymakers in the West and Ukraine.
The first and least likely scenario is that Russia will agree to its defeat by accepting a negotiated settlement on Ukraine’s terms. That said, a Russian government—under Putin or a successor—could try to retain Crimea and sue for peace elsewhere. To save face domestically, the Kremlin could claim it is preparing for the long game in Ukraine, leaving open the possibility of additional military incursions.
A second scenario for Russian defeat would involve failure amid escalation. The Kremlin would nihilistically seek to prolong the war in Ukraine while launching a campaign of unacknowledged acts of sabotage in countries that support Kyiv and in Ukraine itself. In the worst case, Russia could opt for a nuclear attack on Ukraine. The war would then edge toward a direct military confrontation between NATO and Russia. Russia would transform from a revisionist state into a rogue one, a transition that is already underway, and that would harden the West’s conviction that Russia poses a unique and unacceptable threat.
The final scenario for the war’s end would be defeat through regime collapse, with the decisive battles taking place not in Ukraine but rather in the halls of the Kremlin or in the streets of Moscow. Putin has concentrated power rigidly in his own hands, and his obstinacy in pursuing a losing war has placed his regime on shaky ground. Russians will continue marching behind their inept tsar only to a certain point.

20 January
Don’t Fear Putin’s Demise
Victory for Ukraine, Democracy for Russia
By Garry Kasparov and Mikhail Khodorkovsky
(Foreign Affairs) Pro-democracy Russians who reject the totalitarian Putin regime—a group to which the authors belong—are doing what they can to help Ukraine liberate all occupied territories and restore its territorial integrity in accordance with the internationally recognized borders of 1991. We are also planning for the day after Putin. The Russian Action Committee, a coalition of opposition groups in exile that we co-founded in May 2022, aims to ensure that Ukraine is justly compensated for the damage caused by Putin’s aggression, that all war criminals are held accountable, and that Russia is transformed from a rogue dictatorship into a parliamentary federal republic.

13 January
Wartime Putinism – What the Disaster in Ukraine Has Done to the Kremlin—and to Russia
By Michael Kimmage and Maria Lipman
(Foreign Affairs) Wartime Putinism is a reduced Putinism, and it would be impossible to describe today’s Russia (to Russians) as an ascendant power. It is, rather, an embattled power. This explains the frenzied media campaign to drum up support for the war, which masks the fact that Putin has committed Russia to a long cycle of stagnation. Isolation and sanctions will together contribute to Russia’s economic and technological decline. Nobody can say how long Putin can walk this dispiriting tightrope. Putin’s warpath does not lead from point A to point B but is a circuitous route that leads from point A back to point A. A fine-tuned method for avoiding failure, wartime Putinism has all the hallmarks of a dead end.

8 January
Russia’s Eugenic War
Four policies of racial cleansing
Timothy Snyder
The onset of the war, and then the announcement of mobilization, drove much of the Russian intelligentsia and the middle classes abroad. From Putin’s point of view, this was a necessary “self-cleansing,” in which Russia was “spitting out” traitors (his phrasing) like insects. In the initial invasion force, and then among the mobilized, Russia’s ethnic minorities were over-represented. This too changes the complexion of Russia’s multiethnic population, leaving it more Russian. Third, Russia is now emptying its prisons to send these men to fight and die in Ukraine. This too is explicitly presented as a purification of the Russian population.
These actions all involve the reduction of the population of the Russian Federation. A fourth racial action more than compensates for this. It is the systematic seizure of Ukrainian women and children and their deportation into the vastness of Russia. From the territories occupied by Russia some three million people have been deported, disproportionately young women and children. At least two hundred thousand and as many as 700,000 children have been taken by force to Russia. (For comparison: Nazi Germany deported about 200,000 Polish children for assimilation during the entire Second World War.) The logic is that the women will have to marry Russian men and that the children will grow up as Russians.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm