That Putin is now experiencing severe setbacks in Ukraine, Selensky claims that the Ukrainians have taken more territory in 3 days than the Russians have since the beginning of the war, members of the St. Petersburg district council have now also initiated a treason lawsuit against Putin, Kadyrov and the hardliners are raging and calling for an escalation on the part of Putin, even portraying him as a softie, raises the voices in the West who now see a victory for Ukraine coming and even a fall for Putin. Big Ben Hodges even sees the possibility that Crimea will be liberated from Russians in a year. Certainly not as long as Putin is in power, because in this case he would escalate or even threaten a nuclear strike against Kyiv, since from the Russian point of view Crimea is now part of Russian territory after the referendum. In this respect, Hodge’s statements only make sense if he assumes that Putin will be toppled and believes that one or every new Russian leader or perhaps a President Navalny will give Crimea back to Ukraine. The Crimea would then perhaps again become an eternal apple of discord like Alsace-Lorraine used to be between Germany and France, when Russian nationalists accuse a new Russian government of treason, a policy of fulfillment and a new Treaty of Versailles using a stab-in-the-back legend Undefeated on the battlegfield) and perhaps as during the Weimar Republic would regain strength after a first wave of democratization. At least some US strategists and neocons are now hoping that some kind of Ukraine victory could topple Putin. The pioneer here is Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic on September 11, 2022:
It’s Time to Prepare for a Ukrainian Victory
The liberation of Russian-occupied territory might bring down Vladimir Putin”
Although she also warns of possible consequences:
“The possibility of instability in Russia, a nuclear power, terrifies many. But it may now be unavoidable. And if that’s what is coming, we should anticipate it, plan for it, think about the possibilities as well as the dangers. “We have learned not to be scared,” Reznikov told his Kyiv audience on Saturday. “Now we ask the rest of you not to be scared too.””
A former German ambassador and diplomat who was also accredited in Moscow asks similar questions but is concerned: „
Ultimately, Moscow’s power elite will decide. If oligarchs and top representatives of the security apparatus find themselves on a common anti-Putin platform, then this could lead to his replacement. But what happens then? The dismemberment of the RF? It’s getting more and more dangerous, not better!”
But not all parts of the US establishment share this view. An article in Foreign Policy rather believes that even if defeated in Ukraine, Putin would hold out like Saddam Hussein did after the first Gulf War or Lenin after Poland’s invasion of the Soviet Union after the October Revolution and the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which was perceived as then Russian Versailles, as well as Lenin was denounced as a German spy:
“Predictions of Putin’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated
The Russian autocrat’s end has been predicted, wrongly, for two decades.
By Mark Lawrence Schrad, a professor of political science at Villanova University.
September 13, 2022, 1:01 PM
There is a growing cottage industry among Russia watchers and international relations experts focused on the political demise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s an understandable wish—but one that so far is rooted more in optimism about karmic justice than in reality. Virtually every Kremlin setback gets framed as “the beginning of the end of Putin” and his regime. The Russian Armed Forces’ recent disorganized retreat and “regrouping” in the face of a dramatic Ukrainian offensive have unleashed yet another wave of premature speculation about Putin’s impending doom, unbalanced by any consideration of the sources of his political resilience and stability, which have kept him in power through one political crisis after another.
The end-of-Putin genre is nothing new and includes (ultimately false) prognostications by all manner of respected journalists, academics, Russian opposition politicians, and even Western leaders. The predictions of Putin’s imminent demise have been around for almost the entirety of his rule.”
Schrad gives a review of how Putin’s downfall has been predicted in every crisis, be it the fall in oil prices, be it the war in Georgia, be it the Crimea annexation, be it the spread to the Donbass, be it during the opposition demonstrations led by Navalny, be it with every new sanction, be it due to disagreements in the Russian elite. Now one could say that the Ukraine war now has a different dimension of crisis and discrepancies, but one should not count on a hasty fall of Putin, since he, like other dictators, stayed in the saddle after lost wars or crises and a NATO or US -Invasion in nuclear Russia with the goal of a regime change like against Saddam Hussein in the Iraq war of 2003 is completely impossible, also an occupation like in the 2nd World War of Germany and Japan including the accompanying reeducation and Nuremberg tribunal, or today like Milosevic The Hague, would be only possible if a new government is handing over a Putin who has been overthrown from within and does not want to subject him to his own new jurisdiction, different from the St-Petersburg District Council with its treason charge against Putin at the Russian State Prosecutor General’s Office. But it is also still possible that Putin will escalate the war or even switch Russia from authoritarianism to a new totalitarianism. And as I said: we also have to wait and see how united the West remains, especially if Trump (unless he was not toppled by a „democratic military coup“ led by US General Milley and get his then real stolen election victory), Le Pen or Giorgia Meloni are elected or the True Swedes and whether some governments are not overthrown by the energy and economic war or and/or Erdogan and/or Orban paralyzes NATO and/or the EU from within, or the Sultan starts a conflict with NATO member Greece on the expiry of the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 for his hoped-for neo-Ottoman empire and hopes for a quick victory like that in Cyprus in 1974. And with all that, we haven’t even included the possible conflicts and theater of wars in the Far East and Asia, especially in Sino-American relations and not just around Taiwan. As well as the question of whether he will be toppled quickly, Putin still has some trump cards in his hands beyond the current and direct military battlefield in Ukraine, albeit he has to stall for winning time.
However as a reading recommendation for the event of a regime change, the GR article:
Vision 2030 Russia