Staunton, Sept. 15 – Many observers and political opponents of the Putin regime believe that a Ukrainian victory over Russia could lead to positive changes in Russia, including the replacement of his government with a democratic one; but this argument, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, gets things backward.
“Ukraine’s military achievements should not be viewed as a guarantee for Russia’s freedom,” the Russian economist and commentator says. Instead, changes inside Russia are the most likely cause both of a Ukrainian victory and of the emergence of a Russia that Putin’s opponents would like (theins.ru/opinions/inozemtsev/265011).
According to Inozemtsev, “the freedom of Russia is related to the victory of Ukraine,” but the first is the cause and the second the effect rather than the other way around. Obviously, “a free and democratic Russia must undoubtedly condemn Putin’s policies, rid itself of its fascist present … and do everything necessary to prevent the resurgence of authoritarian chauvinism.”
“Therefore, the freedom of Russia implies the success of Ukraine … Nonetheless, Ukraine's military achievements should not be viewed as a guarantee for Russia's freedom.” And from that it follows that “if the Russian opposition wants victory for Ukraine, it must finally focus on liberating Russia” itself rather that hoping for a deus ex machina from abroad.
Inozemtsev draws these conclusions on the basis of the final months of World War I, a conflict that he suggests the current Russian-Ukrainian one “closely resembles.” He argues that this “state of affairs could last for many years” and attempts by Kyiv to destabilize Russia are unlikely to have the desired result.
“Numerous predictions about destabilization in the Kremlin, ‘a transfer of power,’ and Putin's rapidly deteriorating health have been at least erroneous, or at most, a conscious and blatant falsehood,” he continues. And “presumably, Ukraine's successes on the front are not likely until 2024-2025 when the Russian regime will have gone through a period of potential turbulence.”
Moreover, Inozemtsev argues, “no victories of the Ukrainian army are likely to reach a scale sufficient for them to be identified as the final failure of the Putin regime in the mind of the average Russian. Hence, I am inclined to assume that no military success by Ukraine in the foreseeable future will trigger a political crisis in Russia.”
What happened at the end of World War I is instructive: peace came not as a result of military victories but rather because of political changes in the combatants. And defeats did not necessary lead those suffering them to change or to move in the positive direction so many hoped for.
“Moreover,” Inozemtsev writes, “solidarity with the Ukrainian people, apparently, has not become a unifying force even for the Russian emigration.” And “for a significant part of the remaining Russians in the country, the unity of opponents of the Putin regime with Ukrainian resistance and their anti-war stance became an important factor contributing to the rejection of the opposition agenda.”
What all this means, the commentator concludes is that if the Russian opposition wants victory for Ukraine” and if it hopes for positive change in Russia itself, “it must finally focus on liberating Russia from within and not from the outside.”