It is becoming increasingly clear that Ukraine will win the war against invading Russia, retired U.S. General Ben Hodges, former commander of United States Army Europe, wrote in the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.
“Indeed, I now believe it is a genuine possibility that Vladimir Putin’s exposed weaknesses are so severe that we might be witnessing the beginning of the end — not only of his regime, but of the Russian Federation itself,” Hodges claimed.
In his view, this vast empire, which includes more than 120 ethnic groups, is on unsustainable footing and, as the famous Hemingway quote says, its collapse may be gradual at first, but may soon become a sudden, violent and uncontrollable event.
If the West does not prepare for this possibility in the same way that it did not prepare for the collapse of the Soviet Union, this could bring enormous instability to geopolitics, the commander warned.
Hodges sees at least three factors that could lead to the collapse of the Federation. The first is the collapse of domestic confidence in the Russian military, which has traditionally been central to the Kremlin’s legitimacy. The military’s humiliation in Ukraine is now almost complete, with the proud Black Sea Fleet still hiding behind Crimea, too afraid to take action against a country that doesn’t even have a navy.
The former general’s second argument is that the damage to the Russian economy is too devastating and that the Federation needs to support a population of 144 million. The loss of energy markets, which compensated for the country’s lack of modern industry, cannot be reversed, Hodges believes.
The third factor, according to Hodges, is the sparseness of Russia’s population. Despite being 70 times the area of the United Kingdom, the Federation has only twice the population of the UK. These numbers make civic solidarity difficult to achieve at the best of times, but now that the center is in a weak position, the sense of national identity could quickly diminish.
“Combined, these dilemmas pose a very significant challenge for the West. Get it wrong and we could face disaster. Our failure to prepare for the last Russian collapse some 30 years ago, and the internal unrest that ensued in its aftermath, arguably led to the Putin presidency. We cannot risk being unprepared a second time,” Hodges concluded.