Russia has suffered a lot in the ongoing military offensive against Ukraine. When Moscow sent its military to Ukraine in February last year, many experts predicted Ukraine will suffer a lot. But Ukraine held its ground against the militarily stronger neighbour and even killed many of its soldiers. As tables turned, experts started forecasting about Russia, and more importantly, its President Vladimir Putin’s fate. Now, a former Russian diplomat has told Newsweek that if Mr Putin is unable to win the war on his preferred terms, he may eventually be forced to step down.
“Putin can be replaced. He’s not a superhero. He doesn’t have any superpowers. He’s just an ordinary dictator,” Boris Bondarev, who resigned publicly over the invasion of Ukraine last year, told the outlet.
He was working as an arms control expert at Russia’s diplomatic mission to Geneva.
“And we have if we look at history, we see that such dictators have been replaced from time to time. So usually, if they lose the war, and they could not satisfy the needs of the supporters, they usually went away,” Mr Bondarev added. He is the only Russian diplomat to have publicly quit over the war.
If Russia loses the war, Mr Putin cannot give his country anything in exchange, said Mr Bondarev, adding that there will be “disappointment and disagreement”.
“They might think they don’t need Putin anymore. I think that once they say farewell to the delusions, and find themselves in a new reality where Putin cannot deliver anything – only fear and some kind of threat of repression against his own people – that will change the situation,” Mr Bondarev told Newsweek.
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The fighting is currently centred around Bakhmut as Moscow intensifies a winter campaign to capture the small eastern city.
Bakhmut has become the main focus of Russia’s assault, with months of bloody infantry battles inflicting heavy losses on both sides. Russian forces led by the Wagner private army have captured the city’s east but so far failed to encircle it.
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