No Consequences for Putin and His War Crimes

As the scope of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian residents astounds the globe, western leaders and commentators are renewing their calls for the termination of Russia’s war.

They’re also renewing their calls for the termination of Vladimir Putin’s time in power. Do these Russian horrors herald the start of Putinism’s demise? Don’t put your money on it.

The West is wrong

In the West, there is a widespread opinion that the conflict will eventually be Putin’s downfall. The impact of penalties on his corrupt political rule has been emphasized by pundits.

Historians study Russia’s past uprisings and coups. According to international security experts, tyrants that initiate terrible wars face bad consequences.

Even as ex-pat Ukrainians or Russians try to moderate such hopes, western illusions about the Russian people making a stand and ousting Putin, in some type of mass revolt or insurrection by Kremlin officials or the military, are widespread.

The truth is Putin’s rule has been extremely stable, both currently and in the past. Furthermore, many of the same pundits who are predicting Putin’s demise today have done so in the past and failed miserably.

Russian analysts predicted “the end of the Putin era” after the global economic crisis shattered the Russian economy in 2008.

Experts dubbed the re-election of Vladimir Putin and his Unified Russia party in 2011-12 “the start of the end of Putin,” due to a widespread surge of anti-corruption rallies.

The 2014 Dignity Revolution in Ukraine, as well as Russia’s ensuing war in Donetsk, was dubbed “the end of Putin.”

Perhaps the financial sanctions and Russia’s collapsing economy would be enough to bring Putin down. Alexei Navalny may have finally gotten Putin’s number in 2017.

Welfare reform was dubbed “the beginning of the downfall of Putin’s regime” in 2018. By proving the vacuity of Kremlin propaganda, the victory of Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv “may lead to the collapse of Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship” in 2019.

Disgruntled youth and a botched governmental reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak might “topple Vladimir Putin” by 2020. Now, the war, penalties, and anger from the public “may be his undoing.”

Putin, on the other hand, continues to exist

Political forecasting is, of course, difficult.

The future is uncertain, unpredictable, and full of unforeseen twists and turns. Plus, Kremlinologists are particularly enraged by the infamous inability to predict the Soviet Union’s demise a generation ago.

Nonetheless, I’ve joked with other Russian observers who, technically speaking, are far served better by forecasting that Putin’s reign will not end. That way, rather than being wrong every single time, they’d just be incorrect once or twice.

Even though the smart bet is on Putin remaining in power, we still anticipate him to fall. Maybe it is just pure fantasy, karma, or belief in some divine justice that he must pay a price proportional to the horrors he has caused.