The stagnant nature of Putin’s offensive against Ukraine – a lingering war with a shocking mortality rate that has inspired economic sanctions that dull the Russian economy – has fostered persistent rumors that the Russian population is growing displeased with their leader.
The idea that Putin could be removed from power has begun to circulate.
Could that happen?
An Inside Point of View
It seems unlikely, but one former Putin speechwriter turned political commentator believes Putin’s job may be at stake.
“The Russian economy is deteriorating,” Abbas Gallyamov told CNN. “The war is lost. There are more and more dead bodies returning to Russia, so Russians will be coming across more difficulties and they’ll be trying to find explanations why this is happening, looking around to the political process and they’ll be answering themselves: ‘Well, this is because our country is governed by an old tyrant, an old dictator.’” The result of all this, in Gallyamov’s opinion is that “a military coup will become possible.”
Gallyamov continued: “So in one year when the political situation changes and there’s a really hated unpopular president at the head of the country and the war is really unpopular, and they need to shed blood for this, at this moment, a coup becomes a real possibility.”
Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine Has Been a Debacle
Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine seems to have been based on the idea of a swift victory. Obviously, that did not happen. Ukraine repelled Russia’s initial advance and has since turned the conflict into a war of attrition. For Russia, the prolonged conflict has caused a set of significant corollary problems. With respect to Russia’s military, economy, and geopolitical standing, the Russo-Ukraine War has had a deleterious effect.
“The war has badly damaged Russia’s military and tarnished its reputation, disrupted the economy, and profoundly altered the geopolitical picture facing Moscow in Europe,” Steven Pifer wrote for Brookings Institute.
Now, Russia is fully embroiled in a vicious conflict that has already lasted fifteen months and has no end in sight. Reportedly, the war features the most violent fighting on European soil since the conclusion of World War II. The death tolls support such claims, with casualties on the Russian side reaching perhaps as high as a quarter of a million so far. Simultaneously, Russian tanks, trucks, and armored personnel carriers have been decimated. Reports suggest that Russia has lost as many as 9,000 vehicles.
On the world stage, Russia’s standing has suffered — Moscow is very much the pariah in the international community right now. “It will take years, if not decades, to overcome the enmity toward Russia and Russians engendered by the war,” Pifer wrote.
Powerful nations have without hesitation unleashed economic sanctions against Russia – these have pushed the Russian economy into recession.
Understandably, the Russian people are becoming increasingly frustrated with their leadership, which is why the coup rumors are starting to circulate. But the idea that Putin would be removed from power seems far-fetched.
Putin himself seems aware of the potential for being removed from power, and is determined to avoid it. Putin has held on to power for decades. Whether he continues to do so will depend upon the tolerance of the Russian people for Putin’s initiatives.
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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.
May 18, 2023 at 10:35 pm
Harrison, how many Russian civilians have you spoken with about their sentiments? Perhaps you are correct, but my experience leads me to conclude the opposite: that the Russians are growing more and more determined to see this through to a successful conclusion, the guarantee that Ukraine does not enter NATO, and that it remains a buffer state between the expansionary NATO alliance and Russia’s borders.
May 19, 2023 at 12:40 am
Gravity can be a very jarring lesson.