Prof. Alexander J. Motyl: Putin’s time is running out, although he probably does not believe it

Waldemar Piasecki (KAI): During the UN meeting on the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Putin announces the army drafting three hundred thousand reservists to send them to this war. What is he doing this for?

Prof. Alexander. J. Motyl: The Russian army lost 55,000. killed and many more wounded. Putin is desperate. He needs more troops and had to announce a partial mobilization to replace them, even though everyone knew the mobilization would lead to civil unrest and would make little difference to deliver more than just cannon fodder to the front. The Russians are protesting against this mobilization by going out into the streets or even by setting fire to the premises of conscription commissions. Others try to flee Russia anywhere, even to Mongolia. Can this protest reach a massive scale? Many thousands of Russians have already been involved in these protests. The numbers will only increase as the Russians learn that the sons of an elite such as Peskov are shirking conscription, and that the secret part of Putin’s mobilization included a million conscripts. Probably soon mobilized in public, they will start destroying their “war tickets” by refusing to go to Ukraine.

Should other countries accept Russian refugees?

– Only those Russians who can prove that they opposed the political persecution in Russia. Apart from this important moral aspect, I would like to note that all refugee actions have always been a convenient circumstance for the implantation of espionage and political agents as well as agents of influence. Putin announced that he intends to hold “referenda” on the connection of these lands to Russia in those days in the occupied Ukrainian oblasts. He openly mocks international law and the opinion of the world. What is the purpose? Putin never has anything but contempt for international law. The referenda are both a sign of desperation, because the Ukrainians are moving forward and the Russians do not know how to stop them, and a way to annex these territories by Russia, thus saying that Ukraine’s attempts to recapture them will in fact be an attack on Russia itself.

How should the world react to such “referenda” and the attempted annexation of Ukrainian territories as a result of them?

– First, dismiss them as illegal. Second, to impose more sanctions on Russia. Third, increase the supply of tanks, HIMARS and long-range missiles and aircraft to Ukraine.

Putin also announced the possibility of using nuclear weapons. It was not a bluff, he advised. Do you believe Putin can actually do this? In what situation? What could be the target of such an impact?

– Putin is not a genius, but he is not that stupid. The West told him clearly that if he had used nuclear weapons, there would be mass retaliation with conventional weapons. As usual, Putin hopes to force Western politicians to make concessions.

What should NATO’s response be if Putin uses nuclear weapons against Ukraine? Are you ready to rule out a direct military clash between Russia and NATO in such a case?

– The West would respond with conventional weapons, destroying the Black Sea fleet, many Russian military bases, etc. It would not respond with nuclear weapons, attack civilian targets, or send troops to fight Russia. This could, of course, turn into clashes between NATO countries and Russia, but only if Russia chose such a course.

Should Putin decide to attack any of the NATO member states militarily, the answer should be automatic. Do you believe it?

– Before the war, I would say that most NATO countries would not react militarily, as Article 5 actually allows them to do. Now, after seven months of genocidal war, I think that the USA, Great Britain and Poland will react decisively.

Would Russia withstand such a clash?

– Russia would lose. Its armed forces are losing to Ukraine. If it wanted to match NATO, the result of such a confrontation would be obvious.

Classic theory is that a Russia-NATO war would destroy the entire world. Is Russia, with its current military potential, really capable of such a scale of retaliation?

– The world would only be at risk if the conflict involved a large number of nuclear weapons. Putin is not that crazy. Something else is also important. We must remember that several generals from the general staff would have to “press the nuclear button” one after another after Putin decides to use the nuclear power plant. Considering the defeats and condition of the Russian army, it is highly likely that they will not want to commit suicide in solidarity and succession.

President Zelensky presented to the United Nations a five-point plan to end the war in Ukraine. How do you assess the feasibility of this plan? Is the international community ready to adopt it?

– As a result, Zelenskiy demands the continuation and intensification of measures that are already in force. The only contentious issue is the security guarantees for Ukraine: what they would look like, who would give them, etc., we do not know.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Putin, with his psychopathic and paranoid personality structure, is increasingly a threat to Russia itself. Is there any possible internal revolution that will remove him from power? Such upheavals are, after all, a long Russian tradition.

– Putin’s position is very weak. He lost the support of China, India and Central Asia. People demonstrate. There is probably an armed underground emerging. The FSB and the army are furious at his waging war. Hardliners find it too soft. The more liberal ones – that he is too hard. His time is running out.

What is your scenario for Russia for the next three months? Will Putin make it to the New Year?

– Ukraine continues to make significant progress. Popular protests and ethnic conflicts are escalating. The Russian armed forces are starting to disintegrate. Political elites are involved in the struggle for power. And it is very possible that Putin will be eliminated either by a murder, or by a coup, or by some collective agreement in the leadership.

Does he know it?

– Psychopaths and paranoids are suspicious, but generally more convinced of their greatness and power, which distorts their image of reality and self-esteem. They refuse to believe that they are becoming anachronistic to the narrower and smaller circles around them. Therefore, a fall is often a huge surprise for them.

Thank you for the conversation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.