As the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine plays itself out in front of the world’s media, we take a behind-the-scenes look at the post-invasion political settlement which looks anything but straightforward.
According to Russian-American writer Vladislav Davidzon none of the options open to Putin are good. In the first place the ground invasion itself has not gone anything like as smoothly as he anticipated:
“That the vastly outnumbered Ukrainian air force has yet to be knocked out of the sky is in itself a surreal expression of how terribly Putin underestimated the capacity of the Ukrainian army and population. Simply put: those in Putin’s circle who believe that Ukraine doesn’t exist, that Ukrainians are simply exiled or confused Russians just waiting to be invited back home, have categorically been proved wrong.”
"President Zelenskyy has not yet fled or been executed, and it is now obvious that Russia’s troops will not be able to hold onto Kyiv if they capture it. It remains unclear why the electricity, heating, water and internet have not been knocked out in any part of the country (with the partial exception of Mariupol) — though the answer must surely lie in the incompetence, logistical failures and lack of preparation that have underscored the Kremlin’s offensive.
And even if Ukraine does fall, what follows raises as many questions as it answers. Partition of Ukraine appears to be Putin’s aim, but who is actually going to represent him in the newly carved out territory?
“The pro-Russian political proxies within the Ukrainian parliament — who make up roughly 10% of its representatives — fled the country in the days leading up to the invasion. There are, as a result, quite simply not enough serious pro-Kremlin politicians left in the country to form a puppet government. Meanwhile, those who had fled will now look tarnished if they return to a ruined Ukrainian capital to be established as quislings.
The idea of a symbolic restoration of Yanukovych/Azarov cabinet, which had been quietly floated by the Kremlin, is also a non-starter. Even the most pro-Yanukovych sympathisers in the Donbas now view him as a cowardly weakling, after he fled for Russia at the end of the Maidan revolution. Eight years later, there is simply no appetite for a restoration of his people or regime.”
The conclusion is telling:
Even if Putin's army finds a way to repress the so-far irrepressible Ukrainian resistance, what next? A Russian occupation is off the cards. A puppet government will swiftly fall. When the bombing finally stops, Putin will look around at a defiant country — and find that he has already lost.
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