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Yet, it is increasingly looking like a “Second Russian Civil War” could occur first.
It was just a year ago that Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine – largely due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fear of a war with NATO.
A former Russian commander warned this past weekend that the conflict could result in a “civil war” in Russia, as the failures on the battlefield are increasingly likely to bring down Putin’s government.
It should be remembered that the Imperial Russian government of Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown in the February Revolution of 1917 – resulting in the creation of the Provisional Government, which was itself overthrown by the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution later that year.
Russia was then thrown into a brutal civil war that lasted until 1922.
Putin Could be the Instrument of Russia’s Destruction
By launching the invasion of Ukraine last year, which experts suggested was to frighten NATO while expanding Russia’s borders, Putin has, in essence, started the very conflict he sought to avoid.
Ukraine’s continued Western support has pushed the Kremlin’s forces back, and the war could even result in a complete defeat of Russia on the battlefield.
Even if Moscow can reverse its fortunes – which look increasingly unlikely due to the significant losses it continues to take – any form of victory will remain elusive and costly.
A battalion of the Russian Army’s “elite” 26th Tank Regiment, which has been engaged in fighting around the city of Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, was reportedly reduced to just ten T-80BV main battle tanks (MBT) in “serviceable condition” as of last week while just 30 soldiers remained able to fight.
Russian tank battalions typically consist of 40 MBTs according to The Diplomat.
According to recent Ukrainian estimates, Russia has lost upwards of 3,100 MBTs while 115,000 Russian soldiers may have been killed since the fighting began nearly 11 months ago.
A Second Russian Civil War Brewing Thanks to Ukraine?
It was the handling of the war effort during the First World War while the Russian people suffered at home that ignited the February Revolution. One former Russian commander suggested his country was already on a similar path.
“There are all kinds of civil wars. There are civil wars that will kill our country in three days in winter. And it will be over in three days, but it will kill the country,” General Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin – who is also known as Igor Ivanovich Strelkov– said in a video shared on social media by Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.
Girkin, who was a former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, has called for the unification of the Russian Federation with Ukraine, Belarus, and what he has called other “Russian lands.” He is far from the only voice in Russia warning of an impending civil war.
Last fall, Mark Feygin, a former deputy in the State Duma and human rights lawyer, told Newsweek that a defeat in Ukraine could certainly result in a “bloody” civil war as a range of factions and regions seek power.
“What it will be depends greatly on the way this war will conclude,” Feygin warned, who suggested there is a way that such a horrible for the Kremlin could be avoided. “The easiest would be if elites inside Russia will make up their mind and choose a replacement for Putin, a replacement who could negotiate with the West, could provide some initial framework for concluding the logistics of that war, and then also work towards future elections.”
Putin seems in denial that Russia faces such dire straits.
Of course, 106 years ago, the Tsar couldn’t likely imagine or even have accepted that his centuries-old dynasty was on the verge of collapse due to his handling of the war. Yet, within a year, he and his entire immediate family were executed by the Bolsheviks while millions perished in the Russian Civil War.
Even if Putin can’t see the impending disaster that faces Russia now, others certainly do.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.