What Desperate Putin Wants to Hide
Author: Greg Valliere
September 21, 2022
RECKLESS HINTS ABOUT A NUCLEAR RESPONSE from Russia have produced grim headlines, as Putin seeks a partial military mobilization and a sham referendum in eastern Ukraine, theoretically the prelude to annexation. These moves have been demanded by hard-liners in Russia.
THIS OBSUCRES A BASIC FACT: The Russian military is in utter chaos, with well over 15,000 fatalities and perhaps 50,000 wounded, at least a dozen generals killed, and Moscow’s military infrastructure in the region largely ruined or abandoned.
THIS ASTONISHING SETBACK now requires the mobilization of 300,000 reservists who will be very reluctant participants in the war — but for Putin, this changes the subject from the humiliating battlefield losses.
THE MOST DEPRESSING ASPECT of this verbal escalation is that truce talks —
which seemed to have a flicker of life yesterday — now seem doubtful any time soon,
which means a war throughout the winter is more likely, with all that implies for
energy shortages in Western Europe.
PUTIN REPORTEDLY HAS ASSURED HIS WAVERING global allies that he would seek peace talks, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated yesterday that he’s willing to act as an intermediary. Erdogan, Chinese President Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have distanced themselves from Putin in recent days.
BOTTOM LINE: We have asserted since late February that Russia cannot win this war, which seems virtually certain after Putin’s battlefield losses. The most perplexing issue is whether an exit ramp exists for either him or Volodymyr Zelensky. Both seem unwilling to compromise.
IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR EXIT STRATEGY, the most likely scenario is a war through the winter. But an intriguing wild card is becoming more likely — continued battlefield losses for Russia, prompting the removal of Putin by his generals and the increasingly restless hawks in Moscow. Putin must sense this threat to him, which is why he has doubled down.
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