If Putin loses the war, another country will come into focus

“The war is lost and one must decide whether to continue fighting until the last resources are exhausted, or whether to withdraw the last reserves after all.”

That’s what Marcus Keupp from the Military Academy at ETH Zurich said “Editorial Network Germany” (RND) in June. He expects Russia to lose the Ukraine war in October. Other experts are more reserved.

Klaus Gestwa from the University of Tübingen, for example, emphasized in an interview with the “Munich Mercury” that one does not know how the Ukraine war will end. But he also said: “In any case, Russia will have to deal with enormous economic problems.”

“For Putin, war is a means of expanding his power”

Gestwa studied in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, among other places, and still maintains contacts in Russia today. He researches the political culture in the Russian Federation.

“An autocratic, repressive state often tries to hide domestic political problems with foreign policy successes,” he told the “Münchner Merkur”. If the internal modernization policy fails, an “aggressive-confrontational international policy” could result.

“For Putin, war is not the failure of politics, but rather an important means of maintaining and expanding his power.” Whenever there were domestic political problems and his approval ratings were not good, wars broke out.

And indeed: Putin’s Russia has already been embroiled in numerous disputes. The Kremlin was active in Chechnya, Georgia and Syria, among other places.

The Georgia war in particular shows parallels to the Ukraine war. The country, which shares a border with Russia, wanted to join NATO in the 2000s. Moscow didn’t like that.

“Putin’s popularity has never been greater”

“Russia has tried to create separatist movements within Georgia in order to snatch the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia and thus bring them into a permanent territorial conflict that makes NATO admission impossible,” said Gerhard Mangott the ZDF in the past year.

He works as a professor of political science at the University of Innsbruck, specializing in international relations and security research in the post-Soviet space.

Russia is considered the protecting power of the South Ossetians and the Abkhazians. When Georgia launched an offensive against one of the breakaway regions in the summer of 2008, Moscow intervened and sent thousands of soldiers. The escalation was preceded by numerous Russian provocations.

The war was over in just five days. Georgia lost control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia recognized the regions as independent states. Georgia’s entry into NATO was a long way off.

“Putin’s popularity was never greater than in 2008 after the Russo-Georgian war and in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea,” Gestva told the “Münchner Merkur”. He believes that Georgia could become the new target of an “aggressive-confrontational international policy” should Russia lose in the Ukraine war.

Putin has achieved everything he set out to achieve in Georgia

Even today, the situation in Georgia is tense and society is divided. There are always pro-European, but also pro-Russian demonstrations.

“Many people in Georgia are concerned that a diaspora critical of the Kremlin could be established in their country. That would give Moscow another reason to take military action in Georgia if Russian troops can be mobilized for it,” Gestva said.

But he doesn’t think such a scenario is likely because Moscow’s soldiers are currently on the Ukrainian front. “Even the capital Moscow can hardly be defended against 6000 to 8000 mercenaries.”

By the way, it was discussed months ago whether Georgia could move into Putin’s sights after the end of the Ukraine war. Among other things, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation dealt with this question.

Former NATO Secretary General called for Putin to be taken seriously

The answer: probably not. After all, Putin has achieved pretty much everything he wanted to achieve in the neighboring country. Georgia is still not a NATO member and Russia has been able to station soldiers not far from the NATO border – in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

According to the analysis, there is certainly a connection between the outcome of the Ukraine war and Georgia’s future. It is “not to be expected that a defeated Putin will attack Georgia”.

And further: “But if he decides to do so in his last breath, Georgia now has a more realistic chance of driving out a Russia that has been defeated in Ukraine.” After all, Georgia has a well-trained, motivated army.

Further questions and expert content on the topic:

Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin and what influence does he have on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian politics?

Why is Prigozhin considered a threat to Putin? What consequences could this relationship have?

Where do the Wagner Group mercenaries come from and what is their goal?

How did the Wagner Group come about and why does Putin allow it to exist even though it is banned in Russia?

Jean Harris

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