Why Putin Will Survive Kherson’s Retreat (And More)

Author: Riccardo Amati

conflict in ukraine

Kherson’s Russian Withdrawal it is a military turn that will not be followed by any political turn in the Kremlin for the time being. Those expecting sensational diplomatic initiatives for a peace process or even a crisis from the Vladimir Putin regime are sorely mistaken: the elites are too afraid of the tsar to impose themselves and the population remains largely apathetic. It will take, on the battlefield, in the economy and in society, events far more traumatic than the setback suffered in Dnipro, to change the situation. And it will take time – agree analysts and Moscow sources.

“Don’t get carried away by the euphoria for Kherson,” says Andrei Kolesnikov from Moscow, political scientist and journalist who remained at home despite criticizing the risk of government arrest. “This withdrawal does not create any danger for Putin. That he has several problems and many more will soon have but for now he remains strong”, he explains to Fanpage.it. Kolesnikov was in charge of analyzing the internal politics of the Russian division of the Carnegie think tank before it was shut down by the authorities. He recently wrote an article for Foreign Affairs in which he claims that Putin is in the midst of his “Stalin phase”: isolated, paranoid and much feared by those around him.

Do you know Stalin?

Only death could stop Stalin. For Putin, it may not be necessary to wait for the natural deadline. “Some other serious defeats in Ukraine, the sting of sanctions that in a few months will really hurt the citizens, and things could get bad for him too,” says the sociologist and political philosopher. Greg Yudin, professor at the Shaninka School of Economic and Social Sciences in Moscow. Meanwhile, a rift is being created in its ruling class. Which at this moment does not question the boss but whose consequences in the medium and long term are unpredictable. There are now two factions, note on Telegram Tatiana Stanovaya, director of R.Politik – a research institute that relies on sources close to power in Russia. The richest and most influential characters, those who really have a lot to lose, for example the oil tanker Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, would like everything to be as it was before the war. Then there are the aggressive conservatives, the anti-Western warmongers who have less real power but speak a lot, and out loud: this is the case Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founding entrepreneur of Wagner, a private army that does the dirtiest work in Putin’s dirty wars and hammers out so-called “traitors”, with Prigozhin’s own explicit blessing. Those like him would like to double down on the war effort and destroy Ukraine and, if that, the entire world. The fact is that the contrast between “moderates” and “extremists” does not undermine obedience to Putin. “No one has the possibility or the right to contradict him,” writes Stanovaya. “And there is no peace party in Russia.” Or at least not yet. Not even the most powerful economic oligarchs can hope to turn things around. The vozhd, or the leader, may perhaps be hated. But they just say yes. A bit like it was with Stalin.

aggressive conformists

Rumors that the “hawks” are now the only ones Putin hears are unconfirmed. “Ridiculous. Also because he is the most hawk of them all,” a person close to the Russian Foreign Ministry told Fanpage.it. The source – who asks not to be identified – denies it as “absurd” (but the word used is stronger) what was reported by the Telegram General Svr channel, which considers Prigozhin now a confidant of the president and the next head of a political party created to meet the needs of the ongoing war. It is true that Prigozhin is recruiting militias in the regions that border Ukraine. Which is combined with how much he shoots Russian militarist blogger Starshi Eddy (600,000 followers) on the need to prepare for the defense of the Russian cities of Belgorod and Kursk from the Ukrainian advance, after Kherson’s retreat. The mood is also gloomy on the talk shows of the regime’s singers. Vladimir Solovyov, also known to us because he was repeatedly recklessly invited to Italian television shows, between a sigh and another at the progress of the conflict, spoke again about the opportunity to use nuclear weapons. While in central Moscow a small group of “patriots” draped in St. George’s ribbons, a symbol of Russian courage that later became the decoration of victory against Hitler, praised the need for an atomic attack on Washington. A type of demonstration still allowed by the authorities, who banned all others. In these more or less folkloric expressions of love for the Fatherland, it is easy to read a critique of the coups in Ukraine. But Putin is never associated with criticism. The errors are from the military commands. Nor should much weight be given to the attack on the president by the alleged ideologue. Alexandre Dugin: “The sovereign who fails must pay with his life,” he wrote on Telegram after Kherson. However, even after the attack that claimed the life of his daughter Darya, Dugin remains little more than a speck with no real followers in Russia.

In addition to “public opinion”

“Putin’s decisions are not subject to discussion”, reads an editorial in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a newspaper close to the establishment but which maintains a cautious independence. “So Putin cannot make mistakes, because there is no mechanism to correct them.” No admission of liability is possible, the paper notes. In fact, state media did everything they could to distance the president from the decision on the “repositioning” – as it is defined – of Kherson. The only one who indirectly associated him with the will of the Commander-in-Chief was the Propagandist-in-Chief: Dmitry Kiselyov, director of the Rossiya Segodnya government editorial group and host of the First Channel’s most popular weekly news program. “The maneuver was decided to save lives,” he said. “This is a tactical and rational operation. This allows us to maintain our strength and improve logistics. Let’s take back Kherson.” The narrative seems to work. “It adheres well to the logic of the average Russian, because there is a call to save the lives of soldiers”, comments Andrei Kolesnikov. “For the Putinist militants Kherson is a defeat, for the common citizen it has an incidence equal to zero”.

The surveys of the independent institute for sociological research Levada, reduced to a flash but still kept alive because the regime also needs independent surveys, recorded that 40% of the population still agreed to the “special operation” in Ukraine in October. Fears related to mobilization have partially subsided. Half of those in favor of the government’s decisions, however, wanted peace negotiations. We are a long way from percentages that might worry a political system that, for the definition of a pro-Putin Telegram channel, “is one of the most tenacious terrestrial organisms and, like cockroaches, would also resist a nuclear catastrophe”. Some real or supposed expert has argued that after Kherson Putin lost his aura of invincibility and that this will cost him the approval of public opinion, putting his power at risk. But public opinion in Russia is a very strange beast. In addition to the fact that they are stunned by propaganda unimaginable to us, the Russians think about surviving and not intruding. They are so used to the regime. He cares little or nothing for Kherson. The scientific director of the Levada Institute, the sociologist Lev Gudkov, says that Homo Sovieticus, cynical, politically apathetic and able to survive in a totalitarian environment, “is back to being alive and well” under Putin. In addition to “public opinion”. The brave ones who protested – and there are still many, more than 19,000 arrested for demonstrating against the war – are either in prison or have fled abroad or have stopped protesting. Yuri, 27, a computer engineer from Mitischy, a Moscow suburb, was jailed for 10 days in March for participating in a demonstration. He is happy because he earns well and has miraculously escaped the mobilization. “Now I only talk about politics at home, in the kitchen,” he says over the phone. “Alone”.

Ricardo Amati

Journalist and broadcaster. Moscow correspondent by service (L’Espresso, Lettera 43 and others – before Fanpage). Fifteen years between London and New York with Bloomberg News and Bloomberg TV, which send me to an endless series of meetings of the G8, European Councils and OPEC, and make me run the Italian service. As a young man I study international politics, then deal with monsters and the worst blacks for TV and local newspapers in Tuscany, send myself to war-torn Bosnia andDuring a period I do a little bit of everything for the Loop of Florence. Great misunderstood jazz guitarist.

Source: Fan Page IT