Uncontrolled borders, private military formations, population exodus
But Putin’s war is turning Russia into a failed state, with unchecked borders, private military formations, a fleeing population, moral decay and the possibility of civil conflict. And while the confidence of Western leaders in Ukraine’s ability to withstand the terror of Vladimir Putin has grown steadily, it is doubts about Russia’s own ability to survive the war that are growing. the extent.
Let us first take the question of borders. Russia’s absurd and illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions – Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia – even before it could control the entire territory, makes it a state with illegitimate territories and blurred borders. “The Russian Federation as we know it is in the process of self-destruction and entering a failed state phase,” said political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann.
His administration, she says, is unable to perform its essential functions. Annexation will not deter Ukrainian forces but will set a precedent for Russia’s own restive regions, such as the northern Caucasian republics, which are likely to retreat should the central government’s grip weaken.
Private armies and mercenary groups
Another characteristic of a failed state is its loss of monopoly on the use of physical force. Although officially banned in Russia, private armies and mercenary groups are booming.
Yevgueni Prigojine, a former criminal nicknamed “Putin’s cook” and boss of the private mercenary group Wagner, openly recruited detainees, promising them pardon if they joined his ranks. He has no intention of being “legalized” or incorporated into the armed forces. The same goes for the force commanded by Ramzan Kadyrov, a former warlord turned president of Chechnya. Even Russian government security agencies increasingly serve their own interests.
The Russian state fails to fulfill even its most essential function. Far from protecting the lives of its citizens, it poses the greatest threat to them by using them as cannon fodder. On September 21, faced with a series of setbacks in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilization of 300,000 troops. Badly trained and badly equipped, their sole function is to stand in the way of the Ukrainian advance. It is likely that many will be gone in a year.
The exile of educated and talented young people
The mobilization was more shocking in Russia than the outbreak of the war: recruitment centers were set on fire, and at least 300,000 people fled abroad (in addition to the 300,000 left at the start of the war). Most exiles are young, educated and talented.
The impact of their departure on the economy and the demography of the country has not yet been fully felt, but social tensions are exacerbated. By overflowing his “special military operation” on the home front, Vladimir Putin broke a fragile consensus: the Russians had agreed not to protest against the policy of the Kremlin provided that they were left alone. But today, they are told to fight and die in the name of the Putin regime.
Vladimir Putin cannot win, but neither can he afford to end the conflict. Perhaps he hopes that by involving so many Russians in his war, and subjecting them to his propaganda, he can drag things out. In fact, whether he wins his bet or whether the influx of body bags, coupled with elite discontent, eventually bring him down, will only determine the number of people killed and the extent of the fall of Russia.
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As Alexei Navalny, the still imprisoned Russian opposition leader, said during one of his court hearings: “We were not able to prevent the catastrophe, and today we are not slipping closer to it, we are flying there at full speed. The only question is how fast Russia will hit rock bottom, and if it will fall apart.” Worrying question still unanswered.