October 12, 2022

Bulldogs under the Kremlin Rugs

Bulldogs under the Kremlin Rugs

As we stated a few weeks into this madness, Russia lost its War on Ukraine the day it began.

That equation has not changed. The nearly universal global sanctions, the millions fleeing Ukraine and Russia, the thousands upon thousands of lives lost, the millions of lives that will never be the same, the international infamy, and the cancellation of all things Russian – all these are losses that Russia will be trying to recoup for generations.

And, even though wars are no longer won by taking territory, Russia is not even holding onto the territory it briefly captured. The world's supposedly second-strongest army is showing itself to be a pale reflection of the bogeyman it was thought to be. And Ukrainians are rightfully sure that they are winning this war.

The truth is, as the ever-insightful Timothy Snyder put it, the battlefield has now shifted from Ukraine to Russia. Not in the sense of battles taking place on Russian territory. But simply that the battle has now shifted from one about control over Ukraine to control of the Kremlin.

Putin's horrific missile strikes on civilian targets are a sign not of strength, but of desperation and weakness. It was an action not necessitated by military strategy, but to show other factions within Russia that Putin is still in control, to assuage the Party of War.

But Churchill's bulldogs are fighting under the Kremlin rugs. Informants indicate that the money is running out, 70 percent of the ruling elite is unhappy with the war and with Putin, and the public, previously shielded from the war by a false illusion of normalcy, now has something very tangible to worry about: their boys could be called up to fight in a pointless war.

It might all be a hopeful sign that better times are ahead, but, as author Maxim Osipov has written, “In a single decade Russia changes a lot, but in two centuries – not at all.”

While it would be nice to predict and witness Putin's ouster, such an eventuality does not guarantee a more benevolent or democratic outcome. On the contrary, all signs are that the hardline faction in the Kremlin is both strong and vocal, and that the siloviki (power brokers of defense and security) have Russia well under their thumb. They will not willingly release the enriching levers of power. If Putin is to go, you can be sure they will have a compliant replacement standing in the wings.

Or not. The thing about authoritarian regimes is that they are highly unpredictable. Tyrants tend to hold firmly to power and even look secure right up until the very moment before they fall.

But fall they must. All of us are mortal, and the end of hubris is almost always the same.

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