March 17, 2022

Why Putin Probably Won’t Give Up Anytime Soon

By Andrea Kendall-Taylor

We’re now three weeks into Russia’s war with Ukraine. As casualties and destruction mount, many are left wondering how it might end.

Anticipating the war’s trajectory is difficult, not least because decisions about its future reside almost entirely with one man: Russian President Vladimir Putin. With no one in the Russian system to check or constrain him, Russian policy and Putin’s whims are one in the same. This is the reality with personalist authoritarians like Putin: The only thing predictable about them is their unpredictability.

Putin’s own penchant for risk and the patterns evident in other authoritarian regimes suggest that doubling down to secure his maximalist aims in Ukraine is the more likely outcome

Just as Putin’s decision to wage war surprised many, so too will his decisions in the days and weeks to come. It is possible that amid rising discontent with a war showing limited gains on the battlefield, Putin will lessen his demands to facilitate an end to the destruction. Because there is no politburo or political party to navigate or any coherent ideology to conform to, Putin has the latitude to change course.

The Kremlin’s control over Russia’s information space, which has only grown since the war began, means Putin could sell a settlement to his public. Putin has said he seeks to ensure Ukraine’s neutrality and demilitarization, acceptance of Russian control over Crimea, and independence for the regions in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Putin already appears to have moved away from his objective of regime change in Kyiv and could move to accept creative solutions on issues like demilitarization.

Read the full article from Foreign Policy.

  • Commentary
    • May 11, 2022
    Sharper: The Authoritarianism Challenge

    Autocratic leadership is on the rise globally. Even in democratic nations, leaders are eroding checks on their power and weakening institutions. The use of illiberal technolog...

    By Anna Pederson

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • May 9, 2022
    Can Ukraine’s Military Keep Winning?

    Ukraine’s military has undergone a radical transformation over the past eight years, thanks to intensive reorganization and reform efforts and billions of dollars in Western s...

    By Margarita "Rita" Konaev & Polina Beliakova

  • Commentary
    • Politico
    • May 5, 2022
    Is Russia Better Off Without Putin? The Answer is Changing.

    To figure out whether we would be better off without Putin, though, we first need to weigh something else: How would Putin’s departure from power affect Russia? Would a leader...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor & Erica Frantz

  • Podcast
    • May 3, 2022
    A closer look at some of Russia's military failures in the war on Ukraine

    NPR's A Martinez speaks with Jeff Edmonds about what Russia's invasion of Ukraine says about its military power at large. Listen to the full conversation from NPR....

    By Jeffrey Edmonds

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia