Vladimir Putin’s struggles in 2023: can he keep up the cost of the war in Ukraine?

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s biggest problem in 2023 will be fueling his war in Ukraine, both in men and materially.


On a visit to a weapons factory in mid-January, he praised the workers for ramping up production 3 shifts a day 24/7. He told them that they would be exempt from being called up for military service in Ukraine.

Hundreds of thousands of military-age men fled Russia last year for fear of being drafted.

More than 100,000 Russian servicemen are believed to have already been killed in Ukraine.

It is the most unpopular feature of Putin’s war so far, more recruitment may breed more resentment toward him.

But at the rate at which he burns soldiers on the front line, it means this dilemma will only get worse.


Russia’s second biggest problem will be paying to feed the war.

International economic sanctions are beginning to take their toll, and if they eat into the pockets of Russian citizens, then Putin has a problem.

The dangerous tightrope walk that Putin is trying to take involves keeping the value of the ruble high by keeping people in their jobs. This is only going to get more difficult: a cold winter next year and the increase of impoverished Russians on the streets could increase the risk of a revolt against the war and against Putin himself.

And this will influence Putin’s long-term concerns: the 2024 elections.

Support to Putin

In 2021 he signed a law that allows him to remain leader until 2036, but he has built a house of cards. Russian elections are neither free nor fair.

Putin has eliminated his dissidents by locking up opposition leaders and taking control of all the media.

But even that requires Russian power brokers to engage in a mafia-style fight against each other.

If he can’t make gains in the war in Ukraine, or worse, if he starts racking up losses, his grip on the power play in Russia could weaken.

All that is still very far away; His immediate problem is paying the bill for being “the butcher” in Ukraine.

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