On the literal frontlines of Ukraine’s war for liberty and liberation, in the week after the winter solstice, the days have shown no sign of getting shorter as night falls rapidly and morning struggles to be seen through the thick haze of artillery smoke and incoming rocket fire.
Yet while a welcoming Spring will eventually find its way to greet Ukrainians throughout the nation, the ever-shortening clock marking Vladimir Putin’s reign of terror and terrorism as dictator of the Russian Federation will have nothing slowing down or reversing it.
Recently the official tally of those killed in action on the side of the Russian invaders moved past 100,000. However, that number, as staggering as it is, comes with a caveat. A document shown to me by a source close to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine indicated that the current number of KIA is a conservative estimate, and the fatality rate among Russians on the battlefield is significantly higher.
The number of dead war criminals is but one of several indicators that we are in the latter stages of Putin leading the Russian people.
On the macroeconomic level, Anton Siluanov, Russia’s Finance Minister, has admitted that sanctions that have affected the price of his nation’s oil sales have wreaked havoc on the annual budget, while at the micro level, numerous videos and reports have appeared on Russian and Ukrainian social media channels indicating that bank runs are underway, this is taking place as the rouble has fallen by double-digit percentages against the dollar over the past month.
Internally, a spate of recent deaths befalling influential politicians and business owners, including a Duma member, and a retired Army General, have turned the focus back to what is really taking place among Putin’s inner circle of advisers. The high-level strife became even more apparent when Yevgeny Prigozhin, the barbaric founder of the brutality-driven private military contractor, the Wagner Group, refused to condemn his fighters’ criticisms of the current Commander of Russian Military Forces, Valery Gerasimov.
While gossip is a regular aspect of political discourse, in the case of the rapidly disintegrating Russian state, intelligence assessments have shown that rumor and reality are clearly intertwined.
Whether it is a demand for peace talks, threats of a multifaceted counteroffensive, or the paranoid Putin’s use of actors and actresses for press conferences and photo-ops, the messaging coming from Russia is schizophrenic and contradictory.
As the one-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion approaches, Putin has more influence in the west than he does at home. His apologists on the American far right and far left, taking his money and touting his glory, will be the only ones acting surprised when the inevitable collapse takes place and Putin has been consigned to the halls of Hell.
In 2023 headlines will hail Ukraine’s victory and, if the signs are correct, Putin’s downfall. Both events will matter, but only one will be studied in the history books one hundred years from now, as the victors write history, and the victors in 2023 will be all those who fought for democracy, liberty, and the rule of law.