Russia forced to 'revise goals' amid declining support says expert
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In light of the intensification of Russian troops in the Donbas region and southeastern areas of Ukraine and the high number of military casualties that Russia has recorded since the beginning of the invasion, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrey Kortunov said that securing the territory of the Donbas “might be enough [for Putin] to declare victory and withdraw” in time for Russia’s Red Square parade on May 9. “Putin cannot afford to be defeated” as in case of loss, political risks for Putin and people around him “could get very high”, claimed Mr Kortunov.
Speaking with Times Radio host John Pienaar, Mr Kortunov said: “We do not know how long the support [from the Russian public] might last unless there is a clear light at the end of the tunnel.
“And that implies that probably, right now, they are thinking about some revised goals and aspirations.”
Mr Kortunov openly said: “Maybe the idea is just to secure the territory of the two breakaway republics of Donbas, and that would be declaring victory and to withdraw.
“I think that there will be a period during which Russia will have to focus primarily on its domestic problems.
“Definitely it has always been the core of the challenge that Putin has faced.
“But [Putin] has to do something about the Russian economy.
Mr Kortunov highlighted: “[Putin] has to do something about redirecting Russia’s experts and Russia’s empires.
“He has to confirm the sanctions and that will not be easy.
“Unless you know the conflict is resolved and some of the sanctions are lifted.
“Putin cannot afford to be defeated.”
He explained: “A defeat would mean very serious political implications for him personally and for his team in general.
“He needs a victory, or at least he needs something that he can present as a victory to his constituency.”
He added: “That means that he is not ready to accept any resolution of the conflict that might be interpreted as defeat or as Secretary Austin put it, as a weakening of the Russian Federation”.
Mr Kortunov reiterated: “My take is that if there is a clear defeat of Russia, very unambiguous defeat, then definitely political risks for President Putin and people around him get very high”.
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“I think that first of all he might lose the public support that he enjoys.
“Right now, I think most of the Russian population still supports the president, they rally around the flag, as they believe that Russia actually liberates Ukraine from extremists and fascists and Nazis and whoever they are.”
Mr Kortunov concluded: “So there is a considerable amount of support which the leadership clearly counsel, but that might go.”
The claims follow statistics which seem to confirm that around 15,000 Russian troops have been killed so far in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, as claimed by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Monday in the Commons.
Referring to Russian military casualties and equipment losses in Ukraine, Mr Wallace also said: “Russia has so far failed in nearly every one of its objective.”
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