Vladimir Putin’s grip on power is ‘weakening’, new signs point to Russian leader ‘losing control’


Vladimir Putin’s grip on power is “weakening” and other political figures in the country are preparing for a “struggle” in the wake of his downfall, a prominent historian has suggested.

Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University and author of the book on tyrannyspecializes in the modern history of Central and Eastern Europe.

He thinks the growing Russian military losses in Ukraine are eroding Putin’s authority.

‘Putin’s power is weakening,’ Professor Snyder said in a series of posts on social media this weekend.

“We now regularly hear from people other than Putin – for example former Prime Minister and President Dmitry Medvedev – talking about the meaning of war, the catastrophic consequences awaiting Ukraine and the West, etc. It’s a sign that Putin is losing control.

“Usually, media coverage of these statements focuses on their content. It is tempting to get caught up in the Russian propaganda of fear.

“But the real story is that people outside of Putin now feel empowered to make such proclamations. Before the war, there were fewer of them.

Professor Snyder said this “doom propaganda” served on the surface as a show of loyalty to Putin, but could also be read as “rhetorical preparation for a power struggle” after the Russian leader’s fall.

“If Russia loses the war, people who say radical things now will have protected themselves. For my part, I tend to see drastic proclamations as proof that prominent Russians think Russia is losing,” he said.

Take Medvedev, for example, who served as Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012 and prime minister for eight years thereafter.

“I am not convinced that Medvedev, who for years has been seen as the liberal alternative to Putin, believes in the anti-Semitic, anti-Polish and anti-Western hate speech he publishes. It creates a profile that might be useful later,” Professor Snyder said.

He also pointed the finger at Ramzan Kadyrov, the current ruler of Chechnya, whose “kind of personal armed guard appears alongside the Russian army in its foreign wars”. Naturally, this includes the current invasion of Ukraine.

“In Ukraine, Kadyrov’s men managed not to cause too many victims. From the point of view of his own interests, this makes sense. They are available for a new power struggle in a post-Putin Russia,” Professor Snyder said.

“Kadyrov is now proposing that Russia plant air defense systems in Chechnya. His justification is that Ukraine could attack Chechnya, which is not credible.

“It looks more like he’s preparing for a post-Putin Russia in which Chechnya claims independence.”

The signs of Putin’s weakness are multiplying, foremost among them the failures of his army in Ukraine. As Professor Snyder notes, the military is a “key source of Putin’s political strength”, and if the illusion of his “invincibility” is shattered, it will damage his personal image.

“Putin can survive if the army is not strong. But at a certain point, not being strong becomes not looking at strong,” he explained.

“The Russian army is suffering horrific casualties, suggesting the next sign of Putin’s weakness. The Russian state can only mobilize its people for war on the level of emotions, not bodies.

“Russian regions are now working hard to find highly paid ‘volunteers’ who are sent to die with little training. Putin is clearly afraid that a general mobilization will destroy his popularity and bring down his regime. In this sense, it is weak.

“Putin has mild support for war, as long as it’s a TV show, but can’t rely on Russians to risk their real bodies.

“The balance that keeps Putin in power – the control of rivals, the support of the population, the integrity of the military – is challenged by the realities of an unpredictable and costly war. Putin knew how to keep us all in the dark. But now he himself seems lost in the fog of war.

Professor Snyder framed Russia’s current dilemma as a “trap” for Putin – a trap he set himself – with no clear way out.

“The trap set for him by his rivals, the public, the military looks like this: we’ll all agree with you that we’re winning the war, and we’ll all blame you if/when we lose it,” he said. ‘historian. .

“It’s not clear how Putin can escape except by declaring victory.

“Putin’s bet, as always, is that the West will feel the pain faster than he does. This is how its foreign policy works – generating losses for everyone, including Russia, in the hope that the other side will give in first.

“Putin has seemed like a good player in the past. A good player, however, knows when to fold.

Russia hits crucial seaport

Meanwhile, the Russian-thwarted invasion of Ukraine continues.

On Sunday, Putin’s army said its missiles destroyed a Ukrainian warship and US weapons after a strike on the Black Sea port of Odessa, which is a crucial port for grain exports .

The strike came just a day after Ukraine and Russia signed a historic agreement, reached over months of negotiations, aimed at alleviating a global food crisis.

“High-precision, long-range missiles launched from the sea destroyed a moored Ukrainian warship and a stockpile of anti-ship missiles delivered by the United States to the Kyiv regime,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. .

“A Ukrainian army repair and modernization plant was also decommissioned.”

Earlier on Sunday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said missiles destroyed a Ukrainian “patrol boat” in the strike.

Neither the Russian military nor Ms Zakharova have provided evidence to prove these claims.

On Saturday, Ukraine Putin for having “spit in the face” of the agreement to unblock grain exports, negotiated by the United Nations and Turkey.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strikes on Odessa – one of three export hubs designated under the deal – showed Russia could not deliver on its promises.

Ukraine’s western allies, including Britain and the United States, condemned the attack.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it cast “serious doubt on the credibility of Russia’s commitment” to the deal.

– with AFP

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