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Putin: The afterglow of the “modern tsar” – FT中文网

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Putin: The afterglow of the “modern tsar” – FT中文网

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On December 16, Putin inspected the joint command of special military operations against Ukraine. On the 17th, he presided over a military meeting, claiming to listen to the military commander’s “suggestions for short-term and mid-term actions.” Minister of Defense Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Gerasimov , Surovkin, Commander of Special Military Operations Against Ukraine, and others attended the meeting.

The bad drama drags the shed, and the Russo-Ukraine war has entered into the fatigue of ugly trials, and the attention in the Chinese public opinion field has dropped significantly. People are busy buying antipyretics and painkillers and antigens, preparing Yang, Zhengyang, Yangguo, and Yanghang.

On February 24, Putin, in defiance of the world‘s disapproval, launched a war of invasion of Ukraine. The east, south, and north three-way assault to Xin (Kyiv), a full-scale attack, arrogant. Soon it was disgraced, and the “second military power in the world” turned out to be a parallel importer, losing one after another, war goals continued to be lowered, and war losses increased rapidly.

current battlefield situation

In terms of tactics, the stalemate is still there, but it is clearly developing in a direction that is beneficial to the Ukrainian army. The autumn counterattack caught the Russian army by surprise and retreated steadily; on October 8, the Ukrainian Security Bureau planned the explosion of the Crimea Bridge, which caused the road bridge to partially collapse; Two military airfields in the Saratov and Ryazan areas destroyed 2 strategic bombers and several other military aircraft.

This shows that the hinterland of Russia has been shrouded in the shadow of war. Russia’s retaliation is brutal but the results are extremely limited. Blindly attacking Ukraine’s energy facilities and other key infrastructure will only inspire the Ukrainian people’s will to resist the war, attracting more sympathy from the international community and condemning Russia.

Russia has mobilized 300,000 troops. According to Putin’s confirmation on December 7, there are currently 150,000 people entering the special military operation area against Ukraine, of which about 77,000 have joined the combat force, and the rest of the officers and soldiers have been incorporated into the territorial defense force as a reserve rotation.

Russia is eager to organize a new large-scale winter offensive and gain an advantage, thereby forcing Ukraine to come to the negotiating table as soon as possible, obtain a result favorable to Russia, and end the war as soon as possible. Putin personally went to the front-line headquarters to supervise the battle and listen to the suggestions of the front-line generals. It remains to be verified whether Putin has made the final decision for the upcoming military action.

If there is a winter counterattack, the more professional and exciting option should be a feint attack in the Kherson area on the southern line, and the Kharkov area on the northern line should be the main attack direction. Because both sides on the southern front are defending heavily, crossing the Dnieper River to attack the right bank, and being exposed to the precise artillery aided by NATO, the danger and loss are too great. As long as the fresh water supply of Crimea is kept, Russia can accept it by sticking to the left bank of the Dnieper River.

Kharkov, the capital of Kharkov on the northern line, is the second largest city in Ukraine, and this “big fat” has great strategic value. Once the three states bordering Russia are annexed by Russia, 1/3 of Uzbekistan’s industrial output value will be wiped out economically, and a buffer zone with the word “pin” will be formed on the border of Russia’s abdomen militarily, which will be enough to make up for the cost of war and sanctions politically. The difficulty lies in how the Russian army secretly completed the military build-up of 100,000 people under the strict satellite monitoring of the United States, and how to find the main force of the Ukrainian army as soon as possible to win the battle quickly.

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Strategically speaking, Putin has essentially failed. Hastily launching the Ukrainian war has accelerated Russia’s decline and inevitably reduced it to a second-class power. Just because of the blessing of a huge nuclear arsenal, it is not necessary to surrender and insist on seeking peace. The United States and NATO have obvious advantages and dare not end up together.

Marked by the abandonment of the siege of Kyiv on March 29, the Russian army transferred to the Donbas region in the east and the Kherson region in the south to focus on the offensive; Comprehensive defense; marked by the abandonment of the city of Kherson on November 9 and the withdrawal of troops from the right bank of the Dnieper River, the Russian army transferred to key defense. The land occupied by the Russian army has shrunk from more than 200,000 square kilometers at its peak to about 100,000 square kilometers today.

Moral support from many, scant support. On November 14, an emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution requiring Russia to pay war reparations. Even the leaders of China and India, who have voted to remain neutral for many times, have expressed their concerns and objections to using war to resolve disputes to Putin at the annual summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS respectively.

Only small countries such as North Korea and Syria firmly support Russia, and Iran keeps a delicate distance. Russia’s weapons production capacity and inventory can’t keep up. The U.S. government and the media have repeatedly released news that North Korea aided Russia with artillery shells, and Iran aided Russia with drones. North Korea categorically denied that Iran only admitted to providing drones before the war, but not after the war.

Putin will not be guaranteed in the evening

In 2022, Zelenskiy will be the most beautiful head of state in the world. A number of Western mainstream media selected the annual news figure, and unanimously favored him without any suspense. Putin made a serious mistake in his decision-making, which helped Zelensky transform from a mediocre and nepotistic president to a “freedom hero” who defended democracy and fought against tyranny, and became the number one guest of Western countries’ parliaments and international organizations. video speech.

In 2022, the world‘s most regretful head of state is Putin. He wrongly violated the Charter of the United Nations and basic norms of international relations, leading the Russian army and people to a colossal disaster. Desperate, desperate, deep in the swamp of war, there is no good way out. Alone in the international community, the multiple votes of the Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly, and the general implementation of the “Russian restriction order” in top sports events truly reflect the support of the people around the world.

After 300 days of launching the war, Russia directly invested tens of billions of dollars, and killed tens of thousands of soldiers, including several major generals. The “harvest” list is as follows:

A stronger Ukrainian army; a Slavic brotherhood that hates Russia more; a more united EU and NATO; Join NATO for further eastward expansion; multiple rounds of severe sanctions in the Western world; at least 300 billion US dollars of foreign exchange reserves of the Russian central bank have been frozen; the little brothers in the backyard of Central Asia dare to contradict or snub Putin face to face at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit and other occasions; The universal condemnation of the world;  …

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The Russia-Uzbekistan war has now become a battle of national destiny between the two sides. There will never be easy concessions, and the outcome will never be seen soon. It has little to do with who is the president of Russia, Ukraine, or the United States. The war is bound to be more delayed and cruel than expected, and it will become a real meat grinder.

Putin still has a ray of hope, that is, when the Western military aid is exhausted and slackened, it will be the best opportunity for the Russian army to counterattack. If it can win a big victory, it will go to the negotiating table to consolidate the achievements already made. Ukraine has been supported until now, completely relying on collective blood transfusions from Western countries. The U.S. military and economic aid to Ukraine has exceeded 50 billion U.S. dollars, the European Union’s aid to Ukraine has exceeded 8 billion euros, and it plans to aid Ukraine with 18 billion euros in 2023. Britain, France, Germany and other countries also have individual assistance.

On December 16, Zelensky admitted in an interview with French LCI TV that “some people are urging me to sit at the negotiating table”, “but I don’t see anything to discuss.” The first sentence implies that the United States is most likely to put pressure on him to relax the terms of peace talks with Russia; the second sentence implies that he is unwilling to negotiate immediately because the latest war situation is beneficial to Ukraine. But the peace talks with Russia are not decided by Zelensky, but by Biden and Western allies.

Zelensky opened his mouth and frequently asked for assistance from the West. Biden reminded him privately to be grateful. With such a huge amount of aid, the United States and the European Union countries are sometimes exhausted, and some small countries can no longer bear it, and their families are about to be emptied.

The invasion of Ukraine made Russia a global “outlier”. Russia’s economic, technological, military, and cultural strengths are far from enough to compete with the United States, the European Union, and NATO, let alone an unjust war. Therefore, carrying a heavy strategic negative asset, at least 10 years back, a total of 20 years lost in one round.

The invasion of Ukraine was also the biggest stain on Putin’s political career. The most glorious time of his domestic prestige was the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the approval rate once reached 90%. There is a serious mismatch between expansion ambitions and national strength, moving against the trend of human civilization and progress, and how to exit is involuntary. Now domestic anti-Putin factions and movements are undermining. The war was a flashback to the Russian Empire and the sunset of Putin’s “modern tsar”.

The outbreak and defeat of the Ukrainian war showed that after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia’s political and democratic transformation, market economy transformation, modern military transformation, high-tech transformation, and Putin’s 22 years in power failed.

Post-Putin Era

Looking back on Putin’s career, his service in the KGB was not outstanding, it was just a job. On the eve of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, he resigned. In his own words, he could not find a job when he returned home to St. Petersburg, so he planned to drive a taxi.

Professor Sobchak of Leningrad State University was Putin’s political enlightenment mentor. When he was the first mayor of St. Petersburg, he was cultivated as the deputy mayor. Introduced by Mayor Sobchak’s chief economic adviser and then Chief of Staff Chubais, this kind of loyalty caught the attention of Yeltsin’s daughter Tatiana. He entered the Kremlin to work and was quickly appreciated by Yeltsin.

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The Russo-Ukraine war also has another shock wave, which is to deeply affect the post-Putin era. Putin was born in 1952, and Medvedev was born in 1965. The difference between the two is 13 years old. They are suitable successors. Both of them have studied at the law department of Leningrad State University, which is the pride of Professor Sobchak. protégé.

In 2008, Putin kept a hand when he exchanged the president and prime minister with Medvedev in the “rogue shift”. According to the Russian constitution, the president has the right to replace the prime minister. When Yeltsin was president, changing prime ministers was more frequent than changing babysitters. In order to prevent Medvedev from removing his prime ministership after becoming president, or not returning it to him after four years of re-election as president, Putin is also the chairman of the ruling United Russia party. If Medvedev, who is temporarily serving as president, decides to depose his prime minister, he will manipulate the United Russia Party, which has an absolute majority in parliament, to easily veto the presidential decree, or even directly depose the president.

After returning to the presidency in 2012, Putin nominated Medvedev to be the prime minister again, and arranged for him to join the United Russia Party and serve as the party chairman, obviously seeing him as his successor. But in January 2020, Prime Minister Medvedev led the cabinet members to resign collectively.

The next day, Putin signed a presidential decree, appointing Mishustin, who has not outstanding resume and political achievements, as the new prime minister. This is obviously a transitional prime minister; . In July 2020, the answer was finally revealed. The constitution was painstakingly amended and the “Putin clause” was tailored. The previous presidential term was cleared, and he had a strong intention to serve as president for two more 12-year terms (2024-2036).

When Medvedev was president, relations with the United States and the West eased, which was also accepted by the Russian political elite. But after the Ukrainian war started, he was very active and took a very tough stance, frequently speaking on the social platform Telegram. For example, it was written on November 12: “Our country has and is recovering the Russian lands since ancient times”, “Today’s Russia is shaping the future world order”, “Russia is fighting the Western world and NATO alone”.

Of course, there are considerations of national interests, a demonstration of firm allegiance to Putin, and political considerations of continuing to hold positions. Therefore, Medvedev is still one of the popular candidates for the president after Putin. Before he takes over, he must accept Putin’s repeated inspections, and it is very likely that one of the conditions in exchange is to sign a pardon for Putin after taking office, just like Yeltsin did back then.

One of the strategic goals of the U.S. war in Ukraine is to use proxies to remove direct threats to national security and NATO security and drive Putin out of power. But according to the tradition and bloodiness of the Russian nation, once defeated, it will only become more populist and tough. Putin will not back down, and neither will his successors. Territories annexed by war are difficult to claim back through peace talks.

After losing the Russia-Uzbekistan war, Putin will face a “dilemma” in the 2024 general election: if he is re-elected, the popularity of the public will continue to decline, and the people will betray their relatives; On December 12, the leaders of the G7 countries jointly issued a statement demanding that “President Putin’s perpetrators (war crimes) be held accountable in accordance with international law.”

(Note: The author is an independent reviewer, WeChat official account: SSWYPL. This article only represents the author’s personal opinion. The email address of the editor is bo.liu@ftchinese.com)

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