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European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

Do not mistake Kherson retreat for a crack in Putin’s armour | Alexander Baunov

Visiting Fellow Alexander Baunov has recently published an op-ed in Financial Times addressing how large-scale failures in Ukraine could affect Putin's regime.

16 November 2022 | Opinion

Visual of a grey laptop displaying the op-ed "Do not mistake Kherson retreat for a crack in Putin’s armour"

From the start of the invasion, there has been speculation that military failure could lead to the downfall of Vladimir Putin. In this piece, Alexander Baunov states that the lack of clearly defined objectives makes the definition of both victory and defeat uncertain.

"In the eyes of dissatisfied Russians, any form of resistance to the west is a victory, almost regardless of the end result. Even in retreat, they will console themselves with the thought of having prevented Russia’s 'further enslavement'. This is why there is no direct link between military setbacks and the weakening of Putin’s power. It is as difficult for the president to lose this war as it is to win it. Domestically, even the invasion itself is a sort of victory. Meanwhile, the passive majority can be convinced that any outcome is the best possible one (...) The risk is that this will push the Russian president into a virtually endless war for its own sake, and even tougher repression at home than he might have first thought necessary."


Read the full piece in Financial Times.

Last update: 16 November 2022

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