JRL NEWSWATCH: “What Could Bring Putin Down? Regime Collapse Is More Likely Than a Coup” – Foreign Affairs

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

“Can … Putin lose the war in Ukraine and retain power? As Ukraine’s driving counteroffensive erodes Russia’s position on the battlefield, that question is getting increasing attention. Discussion has focused on the possibility of a coup, whether an armed insurrection by disgruntled Russian generals or a mutiny by Kremlin insiders. Although not impossible, neither … is … very likely. … [M]ore plausible[] [would be] a comprehensive [regime] meltdown … as multiple challenges overwhelm its capacity to react and dysfunction drains confidence …. Amid a general draining of confidence in Putin, a coup or revolution might not even be necessary to dislodge him. He might … see his own safest option as fielding a more presentable candidate in the 2024 presidential election — or even sharing power before …. [S]uch a maneuver might not save the current team. The extent of ballot stuffing required to elect a Kremlin favorite might be too great for a mobilized public to swallow. … [T]he operation could be undermined by competition among … regime[] factions. If none proved strong enough to direct the outcome, the electoral contest might end up … quite unpredictable. … [T]he timing of authoritarian meltdowns is impossible to predict with confidence. … [R]egimes may look strong for years, only to vanish suddenly in an avalanche of defections. … [M]ultiplying crises and tensions … [accompanying] war raise the odds, but the endgame can be triggered by mistakes … [with] a random quality. Events often seem to speed up right before the collapse, as falling confidence ricochets through the elite. ….”

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