Putin is ready to fight further. What will change at the front and in Russia itself

29 December 2022, 05:03 PM

It is worth counting on and preparing for another round of escalation of the war.

If we talk about the future model of Russia, it is influenced by several processes – the processes of external pressure on Russia, and the associated processes of Russia’s internal degradation.

On external processes: It all depends on how much the path of advancement of both Russia itself and the entire international environment in this direction will change, taking into account the national interests of other countries. Sanction pressures and measures are not yet playing their destructive roles, since there are not enough mechanisms to enforce their compliance. Moscow has the ability to circumvent these sanctions. Limiting oil prices is also a half measure and is not destructive, as many are afraid of the collapse of the oil market if Russia leaves with its resources. Therefore, the noose is tightening around Russia’s neck – only very slowly.

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Another external factor is pressure on Russia through Ukraine, through its military defeat. And here, too, not everything is in our favor – so far. This is because the views held by leading countries (France, Germany, and the United States) on the future of Russia differ too much. My guess is that France and Germany cannot help but see Russia as a huge market with good profits, and they are not averse to returning to it at the end of the war. And one can return there only at the pleasure of the Russian government.

Therefore, both Scholz and Macron are trying to present themselves as intermediaries. ‘You see,’ they tell us, ‘we do not want to put pressure on Russia to the end, we want to weaken it, perhaps, but not to destroy it.’ And the United States is afraid of the collapse of Russia due to the fact that it would turn into an uncontrolled source of the spread of nuclear weapons.

I don't know to what extent these processes are being miscalculated now in U.S. analytical circles, but so far I don't see any results. At least following the results of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent visit to the States - Biden does not want to go for the final defeat of Russia, for the collapse of Russia. He prefers to bring this process to (it is difficult to say to what) a state where Russia agrees to negotiate, and do so on Ukrainian terms. But this is not expected yet. There is no sign that Putin will agree to this. All his speeches, interviews, and statements say just the opposite - he is not ready for this, and he is trying to continue his policy of completely destroying Ukraine and forcing the West into peace negotiations on Russia's terms.

These two lines go strongly against each other, and it is not yet very clear in which direction this process will go.

As for internal processes in Russia, here, too, not everything is going in our favor, precisely because there has been insufficient pressure on Russia’s economy, as I mentioned above. But, oddly enough, Western sanctions are reinforced by the efforts of the Russian government itself. All recent mobilization measures have led to the fact that the labor force is being washed out of industrial enterprises, which are the basis for replenishing the budget. If Russia makes more attempts to harness  its mobilization potential (they are going to recruit another 400 thousand starting in the new year), then the demographic state of the Russian Federation is not rubber. All this will eventually come to an end. After all, when working hands are called in to die into the military, the losses from this are even comparable to those from Western sanctions.

As for the Russian elites, here, too, gradual processes are taking place, again connected both with external pressure and pressure from the Russian leadership itself. Calls to designate all those who fled and all those who have taken assets or money out of Russia almost as enemies of the people, to increase their tax and credit rates and fill the budget with this, have the opposite effect. That is, this will lead to the erosion of the small layer which can be conditionally called the middle class, and the loss of any support for the Putin regime.

As for the inner circle, there are already more or less obvious processes going on. There is a division into military and non-military parts. Putin has finally understood that he gave people carte blanche to enrich themselves at the expense of the Russian Armed Forces in vain. The involvement of both the Kadyrovites and Prigozhin and his army have not yielded any tangible results. It has become clear that the only force he can rely on is the Russian Armed Forces. It is difficult for me to assess the mental abilities of people who thought differently. Near Bakhmut, all these gestures from Prigozhin were aimed at placing himself as the decisive force in the victory over Ukraine and belittling the role of the Russian Armed Forces. The process of confrontation between these groups is in full swing, and it is not yet clear which of them and in what form will win or receive some bonuses.

Generally speaking, Russia is degrading, and irrevocably.

I see no signs here that both the economy and political movements can get back on the same track they were on before the war.

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The processes of the collapse of Russia are most likely underway. We need to prepare for them, and they are in our interests. But they will be in our interests when they are more or less controlled.

Nevertheless, it is worth counting on the next round of escalation at the front and it is worth preparing for this. Putin has not folded his hands yet. And as we know, new forces are being prepared. The fact that “chmobiks” (dismissive term for recently-conscripted Russian soldiers - .ed)  are now being thrown to the front clearly indicates that the forces are actually concentrating somewhere, and they are being brought to at least some sort of combat-ready state. Not all forces are being thrown at the front. They are throwing the most unprepared. There are a lot of them, like cockroaches. And they are climbing out of all the cracks.

There are a lot of signs that there will be an offensive from Belarus. Everything depends on how events develop both on the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhya fronts. If there is (and I hope it will be) some breakthrough by our troops either on the left or on the right flank, then Putin will probably resort to trying to launch an offensive from the north to pin down and divert our forces and try to cut off our logistical support.

Not everything is clear yet. So far, it cannot be said that the situation is moving towards the fact that we are launching a counteroffensive, and that Russia has thrown up its hands. No, Russia has not thrown up its hands yet. It is still strong enough and it is worth counting on a strong opponent.

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