Putin is now “desperate” for some kind of resolution to the war in Ukraine that he can spin as a victory, a former British diplomat has claimed.
The Kremlin originally thought it could bulldoze its way into Kyiv but, with the war now over a month old, their expectations have been brutally lowered by the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Armed Forces; Russian casualties are mounting and last week Moscow announced it would retreat and “focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbass."
John Everard, who previously served as British Ambassador to North Korea and Uruguay, believes a peace agreement is possible but that it would require trade offs and be painful for both sides:
“In Ukraine, President Zelenskyy has already said that any peace settlement would have to go to a referendum,” Mr Everard told The Hard Shoulder.
“He’s not in power as one person just to decide on behalf of the Ukrainian people and of course Ukrainians, having fought fiercely, ferociously for their land, for their homes, are not going to be happy about any solution that ceedes anything significant to Russia.
“So that is going to be quite a difficult pill to swallow if that’s the way it goes.
“In Russia, President Putin is desperate to have some kind of solution that he can present as a victory to the Russian people.
“The casualties are mounting, the economic pain is getting greater and greater. People are starting to ask very difficult questions about what President Putin is actually up to and what he hopes to achieve by this.
“If he simply pulls out of Ukraine and admits defeat, he’s in deep trouble. He won’t want to do that. He wants something that can be spun as a victory.”
Listen and subscribe to The Hard Shoulder on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.
However, Mr Everard also believes that the full scale of Russia’s losses might be being kept from Putin - such is the fear he instils in those who serve him:
“There’s still a great deal of movement on the battlefield and it’s not at all clear that President Putin is being told exactly how bad things are in Ukraine for his army,” he explained.
“He doesn’t like to be told bad news and people tend to shy from presenting it to him.
“So there’s a real possibility that this war will rumble on and on, more and more people will get killed and in the end there won’t be a negotiated solution of the kind we’ve just been talking about but simply a stalemate on the battlefield that eventually freezes into a peace.
“That would be the bloodiest possible outcome.”
Main image: 2HPE24N Russian President Vladimir Putin holds meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council.