Analysis: Did Vladimir Putin or the West win?
It has been three months since Russia officially recognized the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic and sent troops to the regions in eastern Ukraine that declared their independence. So, who is winning thus far?
Millions of civilians were forced to migrate from Ukraine to neighboring countries. However, the resistance in the country continues. Kyiv has not fallen as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is still in power. Some commentators say that the Russian military has not achieved the success it expected. According to them, despite the many casualties of ground troops, the Russian action has done more harm than good. However, we are talking about a giant country. The lands under Russian control should not be underestimated.
One of the allegations is that Moscow deliberately lingered in Kyiv as a confusion tactic, making it seem as if the Ukrainian capital was the target while it consolidated its power in the regions it seized in the east over this period. The Russian presence in Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, has also been effectively recognized by the Kyiv administration many times.
However, we all know that this war is not just a conflict between two countries and that it points to a fight beyond only capturing land. The real struggle is between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the United States and its NATO allies, which have been pushing east toward Russia since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
So to find a satisfactory answer to the question of who is winning at the moment, we must look at more than the fronts in Ukraine. For example, where does Putin stand in his own country as attempts are made to corner him with embargoes? This is because the West went on the offensive with sanctions against Russia, a move difficult to find a precedent of in history. I’m not just talking about economic measures. From the removal of famous Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” ballet from the opera’s repertoire to the banning of Russian athletes from competitions, this is an all-out offensive against Putin’s Russia. However, at this point in time, we see that none of these measures did any harm to Putin and that they were not enough to cause unrest within the country.
First of all, the Russian economy is running smoothly. Although imports have come to a standstill, the energy-rich country’s exports are breaking records. The price of oil and natural gas is increasing. The ruble is more valuable than before the war. So much so that there are fears an overvaluation of the national currency may cause it to lose its competitiveness.
European countries, who were “adamant” they would not buy Russian gas early on, are now backpedaling. They have even declared that they are willing to pay in rubles. The petro-dollar balance, which is the main source of U.S. hegemony, is cracking. My sources living in Russia say that some imported goods in the country cannot be accessed as before, but other than that they do not feel a difference. We also know that similar problems are being experienced all over the world since the coronavirus pandemic.
Looking at alternative sources, it seems that Putin’s prestige in the country has increased even more than before the war. Support among the Russian public, whose dominant reflex is nationalism, has increased for Putin, who both challenged the West militarily and made the country soar economically.
Western press and public
Yes, I am aware that the picture drawn in the Western press is completely different. Attempts are made to hide facts using “joyful” photos of European leaders, who have not taken any responsibility, visiting Zelenskyy in Ukraine.
But how far can this go? Although Zelenskyy gained prestige in the Western public opinion, how long can these tales distract the Ukrainian people, who were thrown in front of the Russian war machine, and the Western public, which has already begun to pay the price of the backlash embargoes of the U.S.?