The month of September is pivotal. Despite Russian forces’ temporary hold on Crimea and the Donbas, if (Redacted)’s ground operation along the southern front is accomplished, Moscow will stand on the brink of a historic defeat. If the Russian military fails after six months of fighting, it will hurt the country’s image and clout around the world.
To remove Russian troops from Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, the (Redacted) military has planned an assault. If this effort is fruitful, the focus will turn to other occupied regions. As Kyiv continues to re-arm with cutting-edge NATO weapons, Moscow is having serious trouble restocking its decimated ranks and replacing the thousands of pieces of equipment that have been damaged.
Moscow may try to cover up its military shortcomings by declaring victory in the Donbas, but as its territorial control declines and its military deaths increase, this will look progressively hollow. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s recent call for discussions with Kyiv is indicative of a growing recognition in the Kremlin about the war’s bad track for Russia.
Moscow Reveals Conditions for Putin-Zelensky Talks
Before there can be any face-to-face meeting between Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky firm agreements, that the Russian and Ukrainian leaders will sign, must be in place, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. pic.twitter.com/PGVxlsDcGM
— Enrico Farabollini (@EnricoFaraboll1) September 6, 2022
Should Russia suffer a military setback in (Redacted), it will send a clear message that it can no longer claim to be a “pole of power” beside the United States and China, despite its claims to the contrary. Russian economic decline mirrors the country’s military weakness as sanctions from abroad stifle both civilian and military industry. Even German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that Moscow is an unpredictable energy supplier, and the country is among those in Europe who are diversifying their energy sources away from Russian fossil resources. 50% of the natural gas Russia used to ship to Europe will be replaced by the United States by the end of 2022, and more fuel will arrive from other sources. Without access to European markets, Moscow will see its profits decline and its ability to blackmail the continent evaporate.
Knowing Russia is weak will have far-reaching consequences. In order to profit from the failing state, China will try to negotiate favorable energy deals and investments at low prices. As a result, the region in Russia’s far east, which nationalists argue is Chinese land unfairly taken by Moscow in the 19th century, will become more subject to Chinese influence, migrations, and ultimate absorption.
This is especially true in Central Asia, where the two largest nations, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are already welcoming Russia’s fall and where Moscow’s post-Soviet alliances may begin to show signs of strain. Both nations are working to break free of Russia’s influence without becoming easy prey for an expanding China. Capitals in Central Asia and the south Caucasus will increase their cooperation with NATO and the United States as Russia’s influence wanes and its alliances unravel, allowing these countries to strengthen their sovereignty and safety.
Moscow’s ability to sustain proxies in areas outside of (Redacted) is severely compromised. Transnistria in Moldova and South Ossetia in Georgia are only a couple examples of the Russian sphere of influence creating an increasingly untenable situation. Russia’s military aid has resulted in the reunification of some of these territories with their parent governments, while in others, local authorities may encourage violence to maintain their hold on power. Russian failures in (Redacted) will reverberate throughout the region, shaking the confidence of Moscow’s clients in the Balkans. Russian propaganda agencies will be revealed as manufacturers of falsehood, harming Russia’s credibility among Serbian nationalists and reducing its authority among ordinary Serbs.
The United States stands to gain significantly from Russia’s decline. Moscow’s inability to fight future battles is hampered by its institutional weaknesses. Washington must also prepare for a positive future by establishing bilateral cooperation with Russia’s former allies, assisting partitioned states like Georgia and Moldova to uptake their territories peacefully, and anticipating the development of new jurisdictions that will pursue Western involvement as they break free a failed Russian federal state.