The first week of Russian President Vladimir Putins invasion into Ukraine has not gone to plan, with the his country’s military admitting the deaths of 500 soldiers (Ukrainian estimates are higher) and western sactions dealing a body blow to the Russian economy that will only grow worse in the coming weeks, the Guardian reported.
And yet the Russian leader seems even more invested in his campaign to conquer Ukraine, lured in by the growing stakes of the most ambitious and dangerous gamble of his 22 years in power, the report said.
“Putin’s in the corner,” said Andrei Kolesnikov of the Moscow Carnegie Centre. “It’s him against the whole world”.
“I think it’s going to get worse,” said Kadri Liik, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
“For Putin, the incentive is to escalate. He has gone all in. I cannot see him modifying his war because that would be a loss in his eyes.”
Any chance to come to an agreement with western powers had probably passed, the Guardian quoted Liik as saying.
“And I think it’ll be pretty full-blown dictatorship at home. You can see it coming.”
Western officials believe the risks are high for the Russian leader.
While the rule of thumb in diplomatic circles was that Putin would be in power for the next decade, his appetite for risk has raised questions about whether he could provoke a public backlash or an elite power struggle earlier, especially as Russia’s economy enters recession.
For now, all the public data suggests Putin enjoys popular support for the war in which the major cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv and Mariupol have been shelled.
Employees of several Russian pollsters have said that they are concerned that the robust numbers in support of the war could embolden the Kremlin and prolong the conflict, the report said.