The president successfully preserved the status quo for two decades. Suddenly, he’s turned into a destroyer.
Ukraine’s successful counterattack means that for the first time ever in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 22 years in power, he has to deal with elites who disagree with him—on strategic decisions over Russia’s war in Ukraine and how the war may end. Having launched the war not just without any internal discussions, but without even informing key players, Putin has taken huge risks politically. If the war were going well, that gamble would have paid off, but today, as Ukraine is counterattacking and Russia is retreating, questions about Putin’s decisions are mounting. There are fears that Russia may lose outright. If the president fails to convince the elites that he remains a strong leader with a clear understanding of where he is taking the country, uncertainty may become a significant political risk to Putin’s regime.