Russian elite souring on Putin’s chances of winning Ukraine war

    WORLD  08 June 2023 - 16:03

    Representatives of the Russian elite − even those who support the Russian invasion of Ukraine − have lost faith in Putin's ability to win the war and are considering a "frozen" conflict to be the best option for the Kremlin now, writes Bloomberg.

    "A mood of deepening gloom is gripping Russia’s elite about prospects for President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, with even the most optimistic seeing a ‘frozen’ conflict as the best available outcome now for the Kremlin. Many within the political and business elite are tired of the war and want it to stop, though they doubt Putin will halt the fighting. While nobody’s willing to stand up to the president over the invasion, absolute belief in his leadership has been shaken by it," it says.

    In the article, Bloomberg refers to seven people familiar with the situation who wished to remain anonymous.

    The publication's sources believe that the most favourable prospect would be negotiations at the end of the year, turning the conflict into a frozen one and allowing Putin to proclaim a Pyrrhic victory for the Russians, retaining part of the occupied Ukrainian territories.

    "They are afraid to become scapegoats for a meaningless war. It is really surprising how widespread among the Russian elite became the idea of a chance that Putin won’t win this war," says Kirill Rogov, ex-adviser to the Russian government, who left the country after the invasion began.

    The publication believes that growing despondency will likely increase the shifting of responsibility for the failed invasion, which has already led to acute social divisions.

    The Russians' blowing up of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant has further complicated the conflict, as floodwaters have covered the occupied territory.

    And attacks inside Russia increase the sense of insecurity, one of them being the recent drone attacks on Moscow and the fighting in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast. All this undermines Putin's image as a guarantor of Russia's security, Bloomberg writes.

    The duration of the war also compounds Russia's despondency − Russians planned to seize Ukraine in a matter of days, but the resistance to the Russian invasion has been going on for 16 months. The constant conflicts between Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group, with Sergei Shoigu, Russian Defence Minister, and Valery Gerasimov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, also undermine confidence in the Russian forces.

    The publication notes that most members of the elite keep a low profile and go about their business, believing that they cannot influence events. And Putin, in turn, shows no signs of wanting to end the war.

    Even though most ordinary Russians continue to support Putin, the level of concern in Russia is still growing.

    A survey conducted at the end of May showed that 53 per cent of Russians believe that their families and friends are in an anxious mood − this is 11% more than in April and the highest figure in almost four months.

    At the same time, the publication writes that Russia still has considerable resources to fight.  

    And given the fact that the hostilities are continuing unabated, Russian officials and billionaires know that years of international isolation and growing dependence on the Kremlin await them as Putin pushes businesses to support the war and forbids his entourage from leaving office.

    Officials and their families have been subjected to asset freezes and bans on entry to some countries as part of US and European sanctions, making Russia's economy one of the most sanctioned in the world, ending decades of integration into global markets.

    "Officials have adapted to the situation, but no one sees any light at the end of the tunnel – they’re pessimistic about the future. The best they hope for is that Russia will lose without humiliation," said Alexandra Prokopenko, a former employee of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, who left Russia shortly after the invasion of Ukraine.

    Caliber.Az

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