With Putin’s Death Likely by Labor Day, Russia Faces Two Key Choices
Either by cancer or assassination, Vladamir Putin will soon die (and the soon die part is the best news ever.)
Upon Putin’s death, the world will discover If Russia’s invasion is the result of mad Vlad, or is the result of a systemic flaw in the Russian character and government.
The world will then discover if Russia’s invasion is the result of a paranoid, sickly, dying old man, or a reflection of inherent imperialism that must be smothered with the collective actions of the nations of the world, especially the growing NATO alliance where the Russian invasion is happening literally on their borders.
If the invasion was not caused by Putin alone (because after Putin dies Russia continues its invasion) then the economic future of Russia is bleak and set in stone.
The Russians can endure it. They are tough and resilient. The question is will they, and do they want to wreck their own economic future over Ukraine?
And will the Russian people want their economic mobility stopped, and watch it decline when they know it could be just the opposite?
Once Putin is dead, if Russia withdraws its forces and ceases its invasion of Ukraine, then the West will drop its sanctions on Russia, and flood aid into Ukraine to rebuild it, in a Marshall Plan fashion.
Of this, there is little doubt.
Russia, without sanctions, will no longer be hat-in-hand going to the Chinese to ask if Russia can use the Chinese financial networks to turn on debit and credit card transactions while asking the Chinese for radios that actually work for the Russian military. The threat of debt default by Russia will recede and economic life will slowly become what it was pre-Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On the other hand, if Russia refuses to withdraw from Ukraine after Putin’s death, then China will have a brand spanking new client state, Russia — all while Russian forces and Ukrainian forces will fight for territory in a never-ending proxy war that will likely, at some point, breach Russian or Polish borders, threatening to ignite a much wider conflict.
My guess is that the Russians withdraw and retreat from their failed invasion, once Putin dies.
But it is far from a sure thing since Russians have not shot Putin or otherwise removed him.
The costs of the invasion have been much too high and will continue to climb the longer Russia’s invasion continues.
The Russian military losses, the political costs of their invasion, the reputational damage to Russia, and the shredding of the Russian economy will put it on a glide path to third world nation status, all while galvanizing the world against Russia, solidifying the NATO alliance and the likely new membership of Sweden and Finland, all of it will be back on the table, stronger than ever, and the future of Russia will be a third world economic power, with a broken, beaten and depleted armed forces which will turn to China for help.
But help from China comes with a cost.
And that cost is Chinese elements of control and degradation of Russian sovereignty, lost during its military defeat in Ukraine.
Regardless, Putin’s death will give the Russians a chance to choose a different destiny than the one Putin has made for them.
Let’s hope for the Russian people and the world, that those who assume power after Putin’s death make the best choice.