A few theses on Putin’s policy. How the Kremlin thinks and wages war

A few theses on Putin's policy. How the Kremlin thinks and wages war

Russia's large-scale war against Ukraine, which has been going on for 21 months, has entered a critical period. Today, a lot depends on a balanced assessment of the enemy's intentions. This text was written to convey to the public how the Kremlin perceives this war. Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine published an excellent analytics on the mentioned topic by Oleksandr Lytvynenko, Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine.

Putin's global war

Putin believes that by failing to defeat Ukraine in three days in a large-scale war, the Kremlin has passed the point of no return in its relations with the West. There is no turning back, Putin can only win triumphantly or lose crushingly.

He is convinced that Ukraine and the rest of the "historical Russian lands" can only be returned and the empire restored as part of a global redistribution of the world. Such a redistribution could take 10-15 years, be accompanied by conflicts of varying scale and intensity, possibly with the use of nuclear weapons. Moreover, the war against Ukraine is now perceived by the Kremlin as an important, but not the only front for Russia, which is actually waging a world war with the United States and the West as a whole.

This approach leads to four tasks that the Kremlin is currently solving.

Putin's four tasks

Task 1 is to ensure internal stability, mobilize the population and economy, and increase the production of weapons and military equipment.

So far, the Kremlin has ensured economic stability and control over socio-political processes. The political field has been cleared: the liberal and far-right (the so-called "turbopatriots") opposition has been destroyed or marginalized.

In 2026, the volume of military production in Russia should support large-scale high-intensity hostilities, and in 2028, Russia should restore the military capabilities it had in 2022. 

The Russian budget for 2024-2026 was formed with this in mind. Already in 2024, almost 40% of budget expenditures will be spent on war (29.4%, or more than $100 billion, on defense and 9.2%, or $34 billion, on law enforcement and special services). In 2025 - 35% ($93 billion and $35.5 billion, respectively), in 2026 - 30.5% ($80 billion and $37 billion, respectively). In 2023, these figures amounted to 31.8% ($69.5 billion for defense and $35 billion for law enforcement and special services).

Task 2 is to form a coalition of states, a "majority coalition," alternative to the West. This "Global South+" format should promote alternative models to the West (political, economic, financial, humanitarian, value-based, etc.). 

The goal of the Russian Federation in building a coalition of the majority is to "normalize the West", turning it into another region (Euro-Atlantic) with the prospect of further embedding Western countries in their regions (North America, Europe, East Asia), and the United States into just another leading world country. In their view, the West is a powerful but retreating power.

To do this, it is necessary, in particular, to break the West's will to confrontation, to convince Western elites that they are losing and should peacefully retreat. Strengthening the military power of Russia, China and other countries of the majority coalition will play a key role here.

Eventually, Western countries will have to choose between becoming an isolated fortress or joining the majority of the world community. 

The confrontation between Russia and the West is fundamental, not only geopolitical and geoeconomic, but also of a value nature.

At the same time, the outcome of Russia's war against Ukraine is of global significance and will be a powerful impetus for changing the global balance in one direction or another.

In an effort to build an international coalition, Putin is flirting with Muslims within Russia. Despite the dissatisfaction of many Russians, the Kremlin allows Chechen leader Kadyrov to publicly execute a suspected desecrator of the Koran out of court. 

The Kremlin also sees Stalin's traditions of anti-Semitism as a tool for establishing relations with the pro-Palestinian camp. At a meeting of security officials after the pogroms in Dagestan, Putin did not condemn anti-Semitism as such, but rather expressed dissatisfaction with its uncontrolled manifestations. 

Task 3 is to prepare for future aggression against other countries.

Currently, the priority is Moldova and the Baltic states: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia: the entire western part of the former Soviet Union. the Kremlin has already begun such work. The pretext is the violation of the rights of Russian speakers (primarily in Latvia and Estonia). Moscow is already shouting about the oppression of Russian speakers in the Baltic states and the right of peoples to self-determination.

After the expulsion of Russian spy diplomats, Russians are actively infiltrating European countries, especially in the South, with their agents, creating businesses, NGOs, etc. There are signs of preparing an infrastructure of subversive activities for a major war (an approach tested in the Soviet Union).

Task 4 - fomenting conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.

We know about Russia's approach to the Middle East conflict. But we should not forget about Africa. The public execution of Prigozhin does not mean that the Kremlin has abandoned the Prigozhin modus operandi on the continent.

The Russian Federation is forming an "expeditionary corps" involving not only the remnants of the Wagner, but also the GRU, SVR RF and the FSB. Moscow has already tested an approach where the actions of pseudo-mercenaries are closely coordinated with the activities of influence agents in the local establishment, as well as a pool of political technologists and spin-doctors (political back office). All of this is supposed to ensure the political landscape in a country or region that the Kremlin needs.

The Russians are seeking to take advantage of the weakening position of the West, especially France, in the Sahel and Africa in general. It is about natural resources, attempts to limit Europeans' access to uranium, oil and gas, and to get rid of alternative sources of supply to Russia.

Putin's Ukrainian front

Putin needs as much of Ukraine's territory as he can get, because for Russians it is about "the return of the original Russian lands." 

The war has entered the stage of a war of attrition. There is growing evidence that the Kremlin is ready to wage the war as long as necessary. russia is already incorporating the "svo" factor into its plans for manning the armed forces in 2024-2025.

The Kremlin believes that it has enough resources (military, technical, economic and human) to fight Ukraine at the current level for a long period of time. At the same time, Moscow is convinced that Ukraine's internal resources are allegedly "approaching complete exhaustion."

At the suggestion of the Russian Federal Security Service (which considers the current strategy of undermining Western military, economic and political assistance ineffective), the Kremlin plans to adjust its strategy. The key to Russia's victory is internal destabilization in Ukraine.

It is planned to focus on three tasks: 

  1. pressure along the entire front line with the capture of certain politically and media important points, including Avdiivka;
  2. destruction of critical infrastructure (power plants, oil refineries, transportation hubs) in winter to reduce the quality of life;
  3. undermining social unity by fueling the ambitions and provoking the military ("only they can restore order") and opposition political forces ("only they are worthy to govern Ukraine"). In Ukraine, a critical mass of dissatisfaction with the policies of the current government must be formed. Russians do not care who comes to power after the current leadership. They are convinced that no matter who it is, they will not be able to control the situation, and Ukraine will plunge into chaos. In the end, the West will not only suspend aid, but will also come to Russia with proposals for urgent negotiations and a suspension of the war. 

This is how the Kremlin thinks and plans. The informed is the armed. Ukraine is fighting for its freedom and the freedom of all the nations of the world. Free people will defeat slaves.

Ukraine Front Lines

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