The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Are we seeing the beginning of the end of Putinism?

By Michael McFaul

24 Jan 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

The Washington Post argues that both Putin and his regime will never recover from its attack on Ukraine and the events that unfolded in 2022.

Wartime leaders change generals when they're losing, not winning. On Jan. 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, was to replace Sergei Surovikin, who was appointed just a few months earlier in October, as his new overall commander of Russian military forces in Ukraine. The only reasonable conclusion: Putin understands that Russia is losing in Ukraine.

This shake-up at the top of the military is not the only sign of Putin's recognition of failure. He canceled his annual end-of-year news conference, evidently reluctant to take questions even from a mostly loyal and controlled press corps. His solitary and subdued appearance at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Kremlin on Orthodox Christmas communicated little confidence.

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