Home Featured Putin’s going nowhere. The West needs to get a grip. – POLITICO
Putin’s going nowhere. The West needs to get a grip. – POLITICO

Putin’s going nowhere. The West needs to get a grip. – POLITICO

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He also lamented the “Noon Against Putin” protest, which saw opposition-minded Russians exhorted by Yulia Navalnaya to spoil their ballot papers or write in her late husband’s name. According to Ponomarev, this only boosted participation in the sham election and allowed Russian state media to broadcast footage of voters lining up at polling stations, adding to a false impression of legitimacy. Rather, he has urged Navalnaya, as well as other opposition figures like Khodorkovsky and Garry Kasparov, to “establish cooperation across the opposition and decide what to do and what not to do — that’s what I told her.” But she hasn’t responded to his appeal.

“I assume she will continue down the path of her husband and not collaborate with others in the opposition. Where people don’t want to cooperate, I think they aren’t interested in securing a victory but are carving out separate roles for themselves, and are putting personal benefits before the benefits for all,” Ponomarev added. Meanwhile, Khodorkovsky sees Ponomarev’s proposed strategy of violent upheaval as unrealistic and doomed to fail.

However violent or peaceful, Russia’s opposition seems an irrelevance, no matter how much it’s talked up by some commentators in the West, hoping to raise spirits. “Russia’s prodemocratic opposition was largely a spent force well before February 2022,” analysts from the Center for European Policy Analysis argued in their recent “Containing Russia, Securing Europe” report. And while many of these individuals now continue the fight from abroad and “play an important role in helping to get information in and out of Russia, supporting Ukrainian and Russian refugees, and advocating on behalf of political prisoners, as well as organizing largely futile acts of resistance on the ground, there is little sense that any of these efforts can bring about a change in the makeup or direction of the Russian regime,” they wrote.

So, what does all this mean for Ukraine and the West?

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. | Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images

It means that Russia’s defeat in Ukraine is the only realistic goal. This would not only allow Ukraine the sovereign right to choose its own destiny, but it would also deter Putin from further aggression — and it might just save Russia too, being the one thing that could potentially shift the country’s political dynamics. But for such victory to be achieved, the West has to gird itself, accelerate weapons provision and military assistance, and help Ukraine weather the soon-to-come Russian offensives that will likely target Kharkiv and Odesa, as well as build up for another heave to try and push Russia out.

Wishful thinking that Putin’s days are numbered and that a meme will bring him tumbling down need to be pushed aside. It’s time to get deadly serious, Mykhailo Podolyak, a political adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told POLITICO. “Because time favors Russia, not Ukraine.” Because “on the Russian side, they’re adapting for a long war; they have rebuilt their country completely with war in mind. It’s an authoritarian country that’s completely under the control of the power vertical. The first priority is Russia must be defeated,” he said.

From Putin’s point of view, “If Russia loses, it will undergo a transformation inside. If it wins, it will will dominate Europe.

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