"Putin is out of control..."
This is how John E. Herbst, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan and senior director of the Eurasian Center of the Atlantic Council, evaluates the current situation in Moscow in a commentary for "National Interest".
Nearly eight months after he launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine to topple the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and establish political control in Kyiv, his government is now showing signs of strain.
That situation has been further exacerbated by his recent decisions to manage the political problems created in Russia by Ukraine's successful counter-offensive in the east and south. That counteroffensive began in early August, after Ukraine halted Moscow's military campaign aimed at Russian forces capturing the entire Donbass. Ukrainian forces have made great progress, retaking more of their territory by mid-September than the Kremlin had captured since April.
That Ukrainian success prompted some local officials across Russia to call on Putin to resign and led to sharp criticism of the war effort by ultranationalists, who insisted on escalating the war to victory. Those successes also drew criticism of Putin's Ukraine policy from an unlikely direction, namely from Putin's BRICS allies (the BRICS alliance that we know today consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Chinese leader Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand.
Putin began his invasion of Ukraine as a special military operation, not a war, precisely because he wanted to avoid conscripting Russians into the fight.
He knew deep down that despite polls by the Levada Center, an independent Russian public opinion polling agency,...
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