After the defeat in Cherson, the domestic political pressure on Vladimir Putin increased. A longtime Kremlin expert predicts that even his supporters will now hate him. Will Cherson become Putin’s Waterloo?
Only a few weeks ago, Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of the Cherson region in violation of international law, and now he has had to withdraw his troops from parts of the area. Instead, emotional images went around the world of residents liberating Ukrainian soldiers and Volodymyr Zelenskyy singing the national anthem with them. The Kremlin’s declaration that Russia still regards the Kherson region as Russian territory did not help either.
Then on Monday at the G20 summit, the next blow for Putin. His most important and one of the few remaining allies, the powerful Xi Jinping, is moving away from Russia after meeting US President Joe Biden. Together they condemn Russia’s nuclear threats.
After the attack on Ukraine in the spring and the associated setbacks, Putin has often been under domestic political pressure. But first he managed to appease his critics again and again.
However, Kremlin insider Andrei Piontkovsky, the former head of the Moscow think tank Strategic Studies Center, believes that the defeat in Kherson will also be Putin’s defeat. “Putin is moving towards a situation where all Russians will hate him,” Piontkovsky said in an interview with a Ukrainian TV channel. “A pro-European minority hates him because he started the war. Now theirs will hate him former supporters who got drunk on his imperialist propaganda hate him because he lost the war.”
It will be uncomfortable for the Kremlin boss, because with every success of the Ukrainians, the dissatisfaction of the Russian population with their leader grows. Piontkowski predicts that the question of who is responsible for the defeat and why the war is necessary in the first place will become louder and louder.
Piontkowski is one of Putin’s earliest critics, he also introduced the term “Putinism” and has analyzed Russia’s development into a fascist country for years.