Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. It was a blatant war of aggression led by a revanchist autocrat, Vladimir Putin. The war has not gone according to Russia’s plan. It has stagnated into a war of attrition. The question of whether the world is witnessing the last act of Putin as president of Russia has become relevant. To answer this question, three variables were identified, (1) the character of the war; (2) Putin’s relationship with the people of Russia and; (3) Putin’s relationship with his inner circle. This paper is a content analysis of academic and popular sources of information to review the war in Ukraine and modern Russia as it relates to these variables. The case is made that Putin doubling down on the current war of attrition is a double-edged sword as it relates to him surviving as president. Russia could outnumber Ukraine and achieve territorial gains. Putin could spin those territorial gains and taking on the entire West at once as a victory through nationalized media. Russia is never as strong or as weak as it seems. On the other hand, if the war drags on and the sanctions imposed hurt the Russian economy it could eat away at Putin’s popular support. If stressed, the fragile set of compromises a personalist autocrat has made between the country’s people and the country’s insiders could lead to a popular uprising or a coup.
Master of Arts
Major Research Paper