The ongoing invasion of Ukraine has been nothing short of a disaster for Russia. Already their deadliest war since World War Two, the only primary objective the Kremlin has reached was the occupation of Mariupol and the reinforcing of Crimea through Southern Ukraine. Overthrowing the current Ukrainian government, demilitarization, and “denazification” have failed while public opinion has dropped against Russia, especially among United Nations members.

Already facing a demographic crisis, with the lowest labor force since 1998 and military losses that will take decades to recuperate, Putin is at a crossroads. Acknowledging all major objectives have failed, the Russian autocrat knows the longer the war continues, the more the general public will turn against him. Likewise, Putin cannot stop the war for fear of his own life.

Failed Military Objectives

The Kremlin and Russian media figures brought up the idea of “Novorossiya” in 2014. Russia looked to enact this plan at the minimum if it could not conquer Kyiv. Novorossiya was the plan to fully annex the Donbas region and all of Ukraine’s southern coastline up to Odessa to link up with Russian-occupied Transnistria.

Russia’s central goals of the invasion have failed, and Ukraine has reversed these plans with several key counteroffensives in Kharkiv and Kherson. Kharkiv’s liberation was enough to send shockwaves that Putin immediately called for a partial mobilization and “annexation” of occupied territories. Ukraine is currently more armed and well-trained than at any point near the decade-long conflict, and Moscow’s military prowess has faded on the global stage.

Incalculable Losses

The war in Ukraine has been the most costly and deadly for the Russian military since World War Two. According to leaked Pentagon documents, at minimum, close to 50,000, Russians have been killed in the country, with a higher death rate than the Ukrainian military. British, US, and Norwegian intelligence has estimated that Russia has 220,000 military casualties overall, and this was stated in February.

According to the Oryx Blog and US Intelligence, Moscow has lost 40% of its prewar tank fleet and the country has resorted to activating the early Cold War era T-55s to compensate for armor losses. Half of the Black Sea Fleet’s assets have been crippled, including Russia’s most prized flagship, the Moskva. Under intense sanctions that block the nation from acquiring much-needed spare Western parts and chip components, Russia’s military will be crippled for years with minimal gains.

Growing Infighting

Moscow’s battlefield setbacks have profoundly affected the various factions currently fighting for Russia. Utilizing private military contractors and warlords to bolster an already overstretched military, Putin has surrounded himself with hardliners such as Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin and Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov. Prigozhin has an open conflict with the Russian Ministry of Defense, particularly Defense Minister Shoigu and overall commander Gerasimov over support for his mercenaries.