Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russia's Slow Progress Is 'Deliberate' Plan to Save Civilians: Kremlin Photo by: Reuters/SPUTNIK

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle may turn against him with more challenges possibly greeting him next year as 2022 comes to a close. The annexation of Ukraine was said to be a chance for Putin to form a new Russian empire, however, the results on the battlefield have proven less than favorable as the death toll of Russian troops was tallied up to 100,000. The Ukrainian armed forces on the other hand have been bolstered by continued support from its Western allies, in particular, the United States.

U.S.-based Russian expert Olga Lautman from the Center for European Policy Analysis said it would be unsurprising if the current regime in Russia were to collapse by 2023, and that Putin may be overthrown, not by any movement from ordinary citizens, but from within his most trusted colleagues. She added that theories and leaks regarding Putin’s health may have been done by potential successors to undercut his power.

According to Foreign Affairs, the performance of the Russian military in the war was a stark contrast compared to that of Ukraine. Poor strategic thinking and organization were major contributors to Russia’s many setbacks. The political system in charge of managing the war made it all the more difficult for the military to learn from past failures.

When the war broke out in February, many theorized that Ukraine would quickly collapse to Russian military might. But the tables have been turned on Russia which some say may face defeat in the coming months. It remains uncertain what form this defeat may take. Sources said there may be three outcomes.

The first and also least likely scenario is that Russia admits to a total defeat and accepts Ukraine’s negotiated settlement on the country's terms. As peace talks between the two opposing sides with their allies have supposedly vanished and Russia allegedly committing a large number of war crimes, Ukraine would only agree to Russia’s complete surrender.

Another possible scenario would be the Kremlin opting for a nuclear attack and the situation will be pushed toward a military confrontation between NATO and Russia. Lastly, Putin’s final stand would come to an end through a collapse of his regime. His officials and supportive citizens could turn on him, echoing a possible coup d’etat and civil war reminiscent of 1917, when Russia withdrew from World War I after the Bolshevik takeover.

As it is, one of Putin’s cronies, Sergei Lavrov made some deranged predictions for 2023 as well. He said the Russian President may be assassinated to kickstart a nuclear war, alongside allegations that the creation of a Fourth Reich in Germany is on the horizon.

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the coordination council to meet the needs of Russia's Armed Forces, other troops, military formations and bodies via a video conference in Moscow on October 25, 2022. Photo by Alexei Babushkin/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

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