Evolution of Russian Opinion on Putin’s War

Opinions inside Moscow have grown decidedly mixed. 88% of Russians are growing concerned about the way Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is now going. State propaganda and political prosecutions of anti-war demonstrators can only swing public opinion so far, for only so long.

Over 70,000 Russian soldiers dead so far, with three times that number wounded, captured, deserted, mutinied, and AWOL. Half a million young Russian men have fled the country to avoid military service in Putin’s war.

‘Russians feel frightened’ as the ‘catastrophic error’ of Putin’s invasion – including conscription and a tanking economy – begin to hit people’s lives, the officials added. __ Costs Mount for Russia

Russia’s economic collapse has just begun, just as Russia’s battlefield collapse is just beginning. Putin is flailing for his very existence, hoping that his personality cult that is bolstered by state media propaganda will hold off internal dissatisfaction long enough for him to pull a rabbit out of his hat somehow.

Russia has few options for plugging the budget deficit, analysts say, as sanctions and counter-sanctions have hit foreign investors’ ability to invest in domestic rouble bonds, and the finance ministry is already depleting the resources of the National Wealth Fund (NWF).

As Russia has actively started spending NWF money on everything from economic support to social payments, the finance ministry sees the fund halving to 6.25 trillion roubles, or 4.2% of GDP – its lowest since 2018 – by the end of next year.

“The main budget risk amid significant sanctions pressure… is of a complete dry-out of the NWF, which could significantly undermine the federal budget’s stability and the budget system as a whole,” analysts at the Financial University said in a recent note.

If it falls to 5.95 trillion roubles, or 3.7% of GDP, by the end of 2024, the amount of cash left would be the smallest Russia has had in its reserves in the last two decades, according to the budget comments by the state Audit Chamber.

“Sources to finance the budget deficit are now scarcer than ever,” Suslina said.

Best Case Scenario: Endless Nightmares

Ukrainian partisans are having a field day behind Russian lines, eliminating collaborators and Russian annexation officials, who do not rate protection from the badly manpower-depleted Russian forces.

Russia’s increasing manpower shortages are degrading Russian forces’ ability to effectively secure their rear areas against partisan attacks. Russian forces occupy approximately 85,300 square kilometers of mainland Ukrainian territory, excluding Crimea, as of November 1. Russian manpower shortages are inhibiting efforts to secure this area.[7] Ukrainian intelligence reported on October 28 that the Russian military has concentrated 40,000 personnel—most of Russia’s remaining conventional forces—in Russian-occupied Kherson Oblast, where Russia occupies roughly 23,000 square kilometers.[8]

The Russian military’s prioritization of Kherson Oblast has likely degraded Russian security forces in Zaporizhia (a notable hotbed of partisan activity), Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts.[9] Partisan attacks have persisted in Russian-occupied Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts even following Russia’s annexation of those regions on September 30, indicating Russian forces continued inability to secure occupied territory.

Understanding War

Many Russian units in the Kherson area have been reduced to between 6% and 8% of nominal manpower complement. It looks as if Putin is setting his army remnants up for a cataclysmic defeat in some type of Russian-orchestrated false flag conflagration. Putin appears to believe he has nothing to lose. The Russian men on the front lines may feel differently.

This is not a war that most Russians asked for, not a fight they wanted at all. It is Putin’s folly from start to finish. As with most tyrants who take the bloodthirsty barbarian path, no matter how much Putin suffers from this, it will not be enough.

How Russia might back away with something to show for it.

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