Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Putin isn't going anywhere, even if he loses the Russia-Ukraine War

By Mark Lawrence Schrad

13 Sep 2022 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

The notion that Russia’s military failures could cause Putin’s fall from power is wishful thinking, according to this FP analysis. After all, Putin’s end has been wrongly predicted for two decades.

There is a growing cottage industry among Russia watchers and international relations experts focused on the political demise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s an understandable wish—but one that so far is rooted more in optimism about karmic justice than in reality. Virtually every Kremlin setback gets framed as “the beginning of the end of Putin” and his regime. The Russian Armed Forces’ recent disorganized retreat and “regrouping” in the face of a dramatic Ukrainian offensive have unleashed yet another wave of premature speculation about Putin’s impending doom, unbalanced by any consideration of the sources of his political resilience and stability, which have kept him in power through one political crisis after another.

The end-of-Putin genre is nothing new and includes (ultimately false) prognostications by all manner of respected journalists, academics, Russian opposition politicians, and even Western leaders. The predictions of Putin’s imminent demise have been around for almost the entirety of his rule.

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