By Paul Goble
The advance of the Ukrainian military and the retreat of the Russian one has become so obvious that “even Kremlin propagandists are beginning to talk about a catastrophe” in Ukraine, Stanislav Kucher says, a shift in perspective certain to have serious consequences within Russia itself.
In calling attention to this development, the St. Petersburg journalist points out that whenever an aggressor nation faces defeat, that sparks hysteria among the patriots in that country and demands by them that the regime take even more aggressive actions to reverse the situation (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=631CE4B870424§ion_id=50A6C962A3D7C).
That is what one see now, Kucher says. Indeed, “it is better for the faint of heart and those who want to see an end to the war not to look into Russian ‘patriotic’ telegram channels just now. There, everyone from Shoygu to Putin is blamed for defeats and recipes for salvation include everything from ‘mobilization and militarization’” to even more radical change.
One of the signs of this is that the patriots have stopped speaking about what Putin has been doing in Ukraine as “a special military operation” and referred to the fight there as a war. The commentator suggests that this may have a wide variety of outcomes, of which he provides details on five.
First of all, Kucher says, if the patriots have their way, “the dictator ‘wakes up,’ supports them, and throws everything that can burn into the fires of war.” Alternatively and second, “the dictator does everything to make peace and then organizes widespread repressions against the members of the war party.
Third, “the patriots and the war party push the dictator toward the first, but failing in that, they attempt a coup d’état with the subsequent transformation of the country without any decorations whatsoever.” Fourth, and this is a continuation of the second, the dictator is threatened by those who feel he has not gone far enough.
And fifth and most disturbingly, Kucher says, “the desperate dictator pushes the button” and triggers a nuclear war in which everyone loses.
Of course, there are more scenarios, he concludes; and it is possible Russia will witness something “completely unexpected and unforeseen. But about one thing there can be little doubt.” Those who hoped to avoid taking any action up to now must see that their future depends on their becoming not just observers but participants in the Russian political process.