Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking for a decision in the Ukraine war. But what will this look like? Leonid Volkov – advisor to opposition leader Alexey Navalny – believes that Putin now wants a ceasefire. And that the West must resist the temptation.

Leonid Volkov is the closest adviser to imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Volkov has now outlined on the short message service Twitter what Putin’s next step in the Ukraine war is likely to be. His conclusion: Putin is now reaching for his last bullet and the West must resist at all costs.

Volkov describes the current situation as follows: Russia is currently pursuing the “scorched earth tactic”. Putin’s troops are making slow advances using massive artillery fire, as they did recently in the Luhansk region. But this tactic has reached its limits with the use of the Himar rocket launchers by Ukraine.

That’s why Putin is now moving on to the next – and last – trump card. Volkov believes that the Russian despot is now longing for a ceasefire. With this, Putin wants to secure the status quo. He would thus prevent Ukraine from recapturing further areas in the south of the country. But more importantly, he would cement the “successes” with it.

“A ceasefire would ensure that the current demarcation line would become a political reality,” writes Volkov. Once the war is stopped, those voices in the West that prefer a “bad peace” to a “good war” will win.

Putin’s calculus: Western politicians could then say they stopped the war. Prices would go down again. A tantalizing prospect for many in the West. A reconquest of the territories by the Ukraine might then no longer be as popular in the West as it is at the moment.

But how does Putin intend to achieve the ceasefire? After all, Ukraine will never agree to this on current terms. Volkov’s answer: blackmail. Putin had already tried to blackmail the West in June. Stop the arms shipments. Then I’ll stop starving the world by blocking grain shipments. That was Putin’s message. The West just didn’t respond.

“But Putin has two allies,” Volkov said. “General Hunger failed. But now Marshal Kalte is being sent to the front.” Volkov thinks that Putin will now push the gas card to the maximum. “He will scare the Europeans. Until they think they will have to freeze to death in their apartments this winter.” He will use all the propaganda he has in the West for this. He wants to achieve a mood in which people say: “We have to do what Putin wants, otherwise Europe will freeze to death.”

Volkov suggests three ways the West should respond to “Special Operation Gas”:

1. “Don’t be fooled. Europe may face a difficult winter. But that is what is needed after eight years of indifference and inaction. We have to go through this now. If we give in now and agree to Putin’s terms, then in six to eight years we’ll have nuclear winter.”

Volkov justifies the last sentence by saying that he does not believe in a permanent ceasefire. Rather, the Russian President will use the break to prepare another attack on Ukraine.

2. Ukraine needs support to achieve quick wins. The time window for recapturing the areas around Cherson is not long, winter is coming soon. And the closer winter approaches, the stronger Putin’s gas blackmail will become. According to Volkov, only quick successes by the Ukrainians could prevent public opinion from tipping over. “People have to believe that Ukraine can win.”

3. “We must remember that Putin’s blackmail is an act of desperation. His war plan failed. He loses a lot of support. And he knows that he doesn’t have much time left to bring about a ceasefire.” Volkov cites two to three months as the time horizon. “We have to hold out for two to three months. Then Putin will have lost. He’s already lost, of course, but we have to crush him. He can’t get away. And for that we have to withstand his final blow.”