Challenges to Putinism will grow sooner when the impact of international sanctions starts having severe consequences for ordinary Russian citizens.
New Delhi: Paradox of war often differs from what we see during normal times. Putinism is the new debate and not without good reasons.
The 'worst fear' from the Russia-Ukraine conflict is if Vladimir Putin falters and fails on the ground in the face of a stiff fight by Ukrainian people and forces. He could take the road to 'unrestricted war' and use nuke powers. These would often cause bigger troubles ahead and worse disasters on the global stage.
There are various pros and cons involved in the entire warfare now. The western world's response has been bolder and harsher than perhaps presumed by Putin. He might have presumed a quick fall by Ukrainians. But all stakeholders and, more importantly, the people and the president Volodymyr Zelensky are so far 'undeterred'.
There could be now 'irritation' creeping in the Putin camp, and gradually, this could lead to frustration. "A hampered Kremlin could lead to a desperate Putin, especially as his options of off-ramps and face-saving close down," says Mathieu Boulegue, an expert on Russia, from The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London.
It is true Zelenskiy is not bullied. He reportedly turned down the American offer to evacuate him, saying: "I need ammunition, not a ride." It goes without stating that Zelenskiy's courage in the face of overwhelming brute force has fortified Ukrainians in defending their country against invaders.
On the other hand, Putin could 'reshuffle' his military leaders and close advisors. But if these do not work, this could lead to even more dangerous Putin.
From the point of military analysis, Ukraine's air defence is still standing, thus denying Russia the superiority Moscow would have hoped to achieve quickly.
Now Putin's two biggest challenges are managing the economy as 'isolation' of Moscow is growing day by day and dealing with the 'counter-psychological ops' of Ukrainians.
Of course, challenges to Putinism will grow sooner when the impact of international sanctions starts having severe consequences for ordinary Russian citizens.
Will Putinism end soon? Some say – 'yes'! When sanctions bite and hard times hit the country, people will lose their fear.
Sergey Faldin, a writer and podcaster based in Tbilisi, Georgia, writes,"The solace for young Russians like me is that Putin is also digging his own grave in Ukraine….. People are saying they feel guilty about being Russian. People are burning their passports on camera."
Some have posted on social networks, I am Russian, but Putin is not my president. Perhaps ordinary people in Russia do not endorse the war. Not surprisingly, on the first day of the conflict, almost 1,000 protesters were jailed across Russia for walking outside with "I don't want war" posters.
Now take another view. The reason for concern could be Putin's state of mind. His rhetoric is becoming more extreme by the day, and various reports say that the spectacles of his cabinet meetings are disturbing.
"There is speculation about the effect Covid's isolation had on his mind. His inner circle now only comprises hardliners, and the information he is provided with may be skewed," says a piece in 'The Guardian'.