With the crisis of the Putin regime, a new and even more unstable period in world history may be opening up. The “Cold War” was marked by tensions and constant struggles. Then the collapse of the Soviet Union and its return to capitalism – along with the same in China – was celebrated by capitalist forces throughout the US and Europe. Yet it opened the world to increased instability, especially as the unchallenged power of US capitalism withered on the vine.
From here, it seems that Putin received totally false intelligence of potential Ukrainian support for his invasion. That is most likely for two reasons: One was that intelligence “assets” are notorious for telling their handlers what they think the handlers want to hear. And second Putin’s intelligence community further filtered the same reports to Putin himself. But once having ordered the invasion, Putin could not retreat. He has now painted himself into a corner.
Putin in Trouble
At home, his mobilization seems to be resulting in political crisis. Close to 300,000 young men are reported who had fled by September. Within Russia, it is now questionable whether mere repression can stop the protests. Whereas up until now protesters submitted themselves to arrest, there is at least one report of protesters physically
fighting the police.
Cracks at the top also seem to be widening. Previously important layers of the military commanders opposed the invasion. This was made clear by the top retired general, Leonid Ivashov’s open opposition. That opposition must have intensified, especially amidst reports that Putin is now in direct communication with battlefield commanders. Following the disastrous (for Putin) rout in Kharkiv, it now seems Putin’s troops are facing a similarly important defeat in Lyman. Located in Luhansk, Lyman is a rail hub that was used to resupply Russian troops throughout the region. Reports of this evacuation are just filtering in as this is being written, so the extent of the rout is not yet known.
On the other side, Ramzan Kadyrov, the commander of Putin’s Chechen forces is calling for the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons. This, in itself, shows the serious situation in which the Russian troops find themselves.
Putin Isolated Internationally
Internationally, Putin is increasingly isolated. A UN resolution condemning his annexation was vetoed by Russia in the Security Council. However, Russia’s strongest ally, China, merely abstained as did India, another semi-ally in the general assembly vote. Even Iran abstained rather than voting “no”. Turkey, seen as “neutral” in the conflict, has condemned the annexation.
It cannot be ruled out that Putin would use “tactical” nuclear weapons, although further military terrorism – bombing of dams, carpet-type bombing of cities, etc. – seems more likely. The use of “tactical” nuclear weapons in itself could be the last straw that convinces some element of Putin’s own military command to move against him. As for the top capitalists, already nearly 20 of them have died under suspicious circumstances such as “falling out of windows”.
What Comes After Putin?
The question is what would happen if and when Putin is deposed. He has managed to minimize the power of any potential political or military opponent. We have to ask ourselves whether the following could develop: With Putin either driven into exile or assassinated, would there not be a struggle for power with various military commanders linked up with and financed by various oligarchs? Under that situation, would not the power tend to be regionalized? If that happens, we should remember a key fact: The Russian government has over 2,000 nuclear warheads dispersed throughout the country. So would those warheads come under control of the various oligarchs?
Position of U.S. Imperialism
As for US imperialism, when Ukraine separated from Russia, the US facilitated the return of nuclear warheads located in Ukraine being repatriated into Russia. That was because US imperialism sees nuclear proliferation as being a threat to the world order, and to the world itself. Imagine the horror the US would feel with a dozen different Russian generals each controlling their own nuclear force! With that potential, US imperialism would probably throw its weight behind one such general or another, no matter how brutal he might be.
Further Global Fragmentation
That would likely be to no avail. On a world scale, the collapse of the Soviet Union tended to destabilize the world order. In fact, so has the weakening of US imperialism. These two developments have meant that every secondary imperialist power feels more free to pursue its drives. That includes Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. The fragmentation of Russia would further heighten this tendency.
World Working Class
The only force that can lend order and stability to the world situation is the world working class. It can only do so through a united movement that is totally independent of all capitalist forces, both domestic and foreign. Such a movement would have to be a world working class party that would be headed towards the working class seizing power and overturning capitalism.
That may sound like fantastic dreaming, but what is the alternative?
Note: These final comments have been criticized as meaning that we seek a return to capitalist stability. We should have been clearer. What was meant was that the only way to at least temporarily slow down this increasing tendency towards war and social fragmentation is through a united working class movement. That in and of itself cannot stop it, though. Such a movement will have to take over all of society. In other words, through socialism.
Note: These developments make the Oct. 2 meeting of the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign extremely important. At that meeting, left Putin opponent Ilya Butraiskis will present his views on what is happening in Russia. If you are reading this article before the meeting, register here to join that meeting. Oaklandsocialist will also post a video of the meeting in the following few days.