The president of Russia risked it all by starting his war on Ukraine. It is becoming evident that the Putin regime, which has relied on military victories in Chechnya, Georgia, the occupation of Crimea, and the image of invincibility and strength of the Russian army, may well not survive  defeat on the Ukrainian front. Putin will not be able to shift the responsibility for the failed war to the military command because the so-called “special operation” in Ukraine, as he calls it, is exclusively his decision and everyone understands this.

The first sign was yesterday’s call by local deputies of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second city, to charge Putin with high treason. On Thursday, September 8, the council of the Smolninskoye municipality in St. Petersburg called on the State Duma, Russia’s highest legislative body, to bring charges of high treason against Putin.

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The appeal was published on Twitter by deputy Dmitry Palyuga. It states that in the war against Ukraine, “combat-ready units” of the Russian army are being destroyed, and “young able-bodied” citizens of Russia are dying and becoming disabled.

In addition, the Russian economy is suffering, and with Sweden and Finland applying to join  NATO, it means Russia’s border with NATO countries will have more than doubled. The deputies noted that the declared goal of “demilitarizing Ukraine” has had the opposite effect.

“Ukraine received modern military equipment and funds in the amount of $38 billion. This is more than the military budget of Poland and Canada,” the report states.

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These deputies believe that Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine harms the security of Russia and its citizens.

“In this regard, we ask you, as a deputy of the State Duma, to come up with a proposal to bring charges of treason against the president of the Russian Federation to remove him from office,” the deputies noted.

The madness of the decision to start a war in Ukraine is becoming evident to Russian officials. If Ukraine’s successes on the front continue, then Putin will lose popularity and support among the representatives of the power bloc on whom he relied and among Russia’s population. The cult of personality and the super macho image he cultivated will eventually play a cruel joke on Putin and lead to his downfall.

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The cult of personality is not a new phenomenon in Russian history. Putin’s image is not only with the traditional soviet figure of the “father of the nation” but also with the idea of an invincible macho who is frightening the whole Western world. A shameful defeat in Ukraine, which Putin planned to capture in three days, will dismantle Putin’s painstakingly built greatness.

The historical parallel of the war in Ukraine with the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 is becoming increasingly apparent – the political consequences of this war overshadowed Russia’s military significance. For the Russian Empire, defeat in this local conflict at the hands of the Japanese was not merely a painful slap in the face but proof of the inefficiency of the entire state system.

The tsarist army, devoid of offensive enthusiasm and led by a mediocre  military command that was ignorant of the modern state of military affairs and not combat-ready, and which went to its downfall in the fight against the Japanese army pushed by chauvinistic propaganda. The difficulties that arose due to the war with Japan caused the 1905 revolution, and the defeat in the war contributed to its spread.

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The revolution began on January 21, 1905 in St. Petersburg. The defeats of the Russian army were not the main reason for the revolutionary upsurge. However, the failures that claimed the lives of thousands of soldiers and sailors contributed to revolutionary sentiment, which  spread from the civilian population to the armed forces located in the European part of Russia.

It is still challenging to predict whether defeat in the war with Ukraine would lead to a revolution in Russia. One thing is evident though; it will be difficult for Putin to retain power.

There are two possible scenarios on how events will turn if Russia is defeated in its war on Ukraine.

The first scenario is a military coup. Even now, it is clear that in the event of Russia losing, Putin will try to shift responsibility to the security forces and the army command – and the latter will not be happy with this. The prerequisites are in place for a military coup in Russia and power going from Putin’s hands  to a military group.

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The second scenario is that Putin will manage to stay in power after all. However, dissatisfaction with his rule will increase, leading to the growth of the partisan movement and possibly political assassinations. The recent murder of the daughter of Alexander Dugin, Putin propagandist and ally, is the first sign of a nascent resistance movement in Russia. Sooner or later, societal discontent will lead to a change of power by force.

In fact, by declaring war on Ukraine, Putin may have signed his own sentence. It is difficult to say whether the dictator understands his mistake – perhaps many years of being in power have clouded Putin’s mind and his perception of reality. Either way, it’s too late for him to back down.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Kyiv Post

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