1) Like Nazi Germany, revanchist, imperialist, genocidal, and fascist Russia is a world power. Our expectations that Russia will eventually achieve some kind of domestic normalcy and foreign harmony have been dashed by the Russo-Ukrainian War. Famously, Ronald Reagan described to the Soviet Union as a “evil empire.” It’s possible that the Russian Federation is an even worse terrible would-be empire. While existing empires are typically content with the status quo, aspiring empires grow and launch wars. Russia’s conflict with Ukraine cannot be won, but it can only be put an end to once and for all if Russia gives up its revanchist, imperialist, genocidal, and fascist tendencies. Negotiations will be fruitless, and only defeat will be able to fundamentally alter how Russia interacts with its neighbors and the rest of the world.
2) Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, may or may not be mentally unstable, but he is unquestionably a mediocre chess player, not the magnificent master he was described as being. Putin has managed to alienate Russia’s friends and allies, turn Russia into a severely corrupt and ineffective petro-state, destroy the market economy and its professional classes, tarnish Russia’s reputation by connecting it with war crimes, and involve it in a disastrous war that will go down in history as one of the biggest strategic errors. All of this has been accomplished in his more than 20 years in power. But Putin’s biggest error might have been to establish himself as the centerpiece and fulcrum of the Russian political system. Russians will find it difficult to view him as the embodiment of their country as he ages. And the system will struggle to function without him when he departs, which he will undoubtedly do.
3) The Russian army is in disarray, just like the Russian government, society, economy, and culture. Evidently, Putin’s allies stole the funds intended to finance its refurbishment. Its armaments and heavy equipment are far worse than anyone could have anticipated, and its tactics, strategy, and command and control are outdated. Russian society is in a serious crisis as millions of middle-class professionals have left the Putin dictatorship in search of better opportunities abroad, while others who are unable or unwilling to go are seeing their possibilities reduced by a weakening economy.
4) The world has been surprised by the resilience, bravery, and devotion to democracy and freedom displayed by Ukrainians and their president, Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as by their capacity to withstand and then push back the Russian assault. Putin’s invasion, slaughter, and war could not have been fought off by a corrupt and severely fractured nation, as was the image of Ukraine prior to the war, which wears down its Western backers. Despite their propensity to gripe, Ukrainians are undoubtedly loyal to their nation, regardless of where they reside or what language they speak.
5) Western analysts and politicians drastically miscalculated Zelensky, Putin, and the Ukraine. Despite the fact that Western military, financial, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine proved crucial to its capacity to push the Russians back, at the outset of the conflict, the West judged Russia to be stronger, Putin to be more competent, Ukraine to be weaker, and Zelensky to be incompetent. Therefore, it is important to take the West’s predictions of what would happen in the event of a Russian collapse with a grain of salt. Much of Eurasia could experience a prolonged bloodbath similar to what happened following Imperial Russia’s fall. However, a peaceful disintegration of the Russian Federation like to that of the Soviet Union is also a possibility.
6) In any case, a Ukrainian loss would be disastrous for peace, security, democracy, and liberalism in general and for Eurasia in particular because it would mark the triumph of revanchism, imperialism, genocide, and war. A Ukrainian triumph, on the other hand, would be a death blow to everything Putin and his allies and fans believe in.
If 2022 provides any indication of what to expect in 2023, we may anticipate that Ukraine will continue to win wars and that Russia will experience more domestic and international problems.
2023 may easily turn into a rerun of 1917, when a lost war, a collapsing economy, public unrest, the ruler’s incompetence, and elite illegitimacy led to the end of Russia, as the Ukrainians must fight for their country’s life while the Russians do not. Will Putin witness the failure of his entire life’s work?