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Kherson defeat could end Putin’s Victory cult as Crimean War defeat did Russia’s 19th-century one, Klishin Says

Ukrainian troops liberate Snihurivka, a village in Kherson Oblast, amid the Russian retreat. Screenshot from video

Russian commentators are offering various ideas about what the Russian defeat in Kherson will mean for Russia’s future, with most pointing to how it weakens Vladimir Putin and could lead to challenges to his rule. But some are suggesting it may have even more radical consequences.

Moscow journalist Ilya Klishin, for example, suggests that the Kherson defeat could affect Russia in much the same way that Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War in the middle of the 19th century did, destroying the basis for the authoritarianism of Nicholas I and ushering in the period of reforms under Alexander II.

Putin’s obsession with the Victory cult about World War II, about Russia’s unique role in defeating Hitler with the actions of everyone else dismissed, has led him to defend that idea not only with propaganda campaigns but also with the introduction of legal sanctions against anyone who questions his version of history.

But that works only as long as Russia appears to be winning, Klishin suggests. When it appears that Russia has lost, there is the real risk that this entire edifice will collapse “like a house of cards.” That happened at the end of the Crimean War and could easily happen again.

If that proves to be the case, the Moscow journalist suggests, it is entirely possible that Russia will again turn on a time from reaction to reform. If that happens, it will have less to do with Putin’s departure than with a change in the Zeitgeist that will make the former world no longer sustainable.

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