August 22, 2022:
Russian military officials are publicly reporting the reasons why Russian forces are doing so poorly in Ukraine. Accurate descriptions of how the Ukrainians defeated the initial invasion using innovative tactics and superior Western portable anti-tank weapons are described in detail, as are the reasons why Russian tanks were not equipped to deal with that. Same with the Russian manpower problems and growing reluctance of Russians to join the military, much less serve in Ukraine.
These frank admissions merely confirm what most Russians already know and let the people know that their government is aware of the problems and has little in the way of solutions. Increased sanctions have crippled the Russian economy and made it impossible to produce weapons that depend on any key Western components. Worse, Western nations continue to supply Ukraine with weapons which Russian officials admit are superior to Russian ones. These supplies are increasing because NATO nations, as a whole, are far more productive than Russia, while the Ukrainians have justified this increased production to restore their own weapon stocks while continuing to supply Ukraine’s resistance. NATO knows what works and Russia cannot compete.
The Ukraine invasion was a mistake that Russia will have difficulty recovering from. The Ukrainians are preparing major offensive operations that seek to expel all Russian forces from Ukraine. This puts Russia in a difficult position because loss of all its Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory, in addition to its heavy losses in men and material, would be a disastrous regime-ending military and political defeat. The implications of this are not discussed because the Russian officials describing the problems and costs are still working for senior leadership (Vladimir Putin) that has not yet decided how to deal with the mess they created. Left unsaid is any discussion of what this obviously might mean for the survival of Putin’s rule. There are only rumors of who might replace Putin and how that might be done.
These admissions by senior Russian military analysts confirm that the government does know what happened and how. The ultimate outcome is left for others to decide. Under Putin, Russia has become a police state where open opposition to the government is dangerous, but not out of the question as it was when the Soviet Union still existed. Replacing a government is possible but potentially dangerous for those who attempt it. This is something new for Russia, where previous autocratic governments were replaced only after they demonstrated an inability to maintain their power. That’s how the monarchy failed and was replaced by the autocratic communists a century ago by the Soviet Union. The Soviets simply collapsed in 1991 and the Russian empire dissolved, with only the core Russian state remaining. This is also failing and there is uncertainty about what will replace it.
Many of Vladimir Putin’s supporters now prefer to call him “ruler” rather than “president”. The former is a traditional Russian term while the latter is a foreign import, first popularized by the United States two centuries ago. Despite the continuing problems in Ukraine, Putin still has a following. Putin also has a lot more opponents in Russia as well as outspoken critics who used to be supporters. That support declined as the war in Ukraine turned into an embarrassing and costly defeat. Many of Putin’s closest associates have doubts about the viability of the Ukrainian operation and the ability of Russia to retain control of any Ukrainian territory if the Ukrainians continue carry out offensive operations while receiving more weapons and other aid from the West. In other words, the Russian political situation is cloudy with a chance of sudden collapse (of the Putin government). There is at one armed opposition group (the National Republic Army) inside Russia and there are a growing number of anti-Putin Russians.