Andrey Piontkovsky, who in the past has warned that Vladimir Putin will continue to escalate his acts of aggression, now says that there is unlikely to be any massive Russian attack on Ukraine because “even Putin understands that such an adventure would be catastrophic for his personal power.”
Of course, the Russian analyst says, one cannot totally exclude Putin might do something others would see as self-destructive given that “even Angela Merkel has recognized Putin lives in a parallel reality — and who knows what a madman with unlimited power might do.”
Piontkovsky draws this conclusion on the basis of three ideas.
- First, he says, “Putin does not completely control what is taking place in the Donbas.”
- Second, “even he understands that such an adventure would be catastrophic for the regime as a whole and for his personal power,” given the losses it would entail.
- And third, he points to an article by Fyodor Lukyanov in “The Moscow Times” last Sunday in English with the title, “Putin Wants Peaceful Coexistence with the West” as an indication Putin has less room for maneuver than many think and that he or those around him are looking for a way out. “The Russian elite, the so-called ruling class,” Piontkovsky says, has recognized that [a full-scale attack on Ukraine] would be too dangerous and too expensive.” And their feeling are well reflected in Lukyanov’s article, one that calls for a new round of peaceful coexistence “on condition” that Moscow retains Crimea and its position in the Donbas but doesn’t go further.
That doesn’t mean that Putin will not continue to cause trouble for Ukraine: he will do so as long as he is in office, the Russian commentator says. But it does mean that the risk that the Kremlin leader will launch the kind of major invasion many had expected is now relatively low.