More than 10 months have elapsed since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the equivalent of 300-plus days of brutal warfare and heavy casualties between the neighboring countries.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t appear to be any closer to his goal of a Ukraine surrender.
As a result, there are speculative reports of Putin, 70, feeling more “isolated” than ever — from other world leaders, members of the Kremlin, and his own Russian citizens.
According to The Washington Post, Putin — who started his career as a Soviet KGB agent — “has always kept his own counsel, relying on a close inner circle of old friends and confidants while seeming to never fully trust or confide in anyone.”
Those instincts might have been exacerbated by the frustration of a war that seemingly has no end in sight.
Putin “feels the loss of his friends,” an anonymous Russian state official told the Post. Belarusian President Alexander “Lukashenko is the only one he can pay a serious visit to. All the rest see him only when necessary.”
The Post also reports that internal questions are “growing” in the minds of Kremlin personnel and the Russian citizens on the purpose of the war with Ukraine moving forward.
“There is huge frustration among the people around [Putin],” a Russian billionaire who maintains contacts with top-ranking officials told the Post. “He clearly doesn’t know what to do.”
Even the prospective notion of peace, or a cease-fire agreement between Russia and Ukraine, appears to be fraught with ambiguity.
The Russian state official lamented that Putin’s “constant attempts to force the West and Ukraine to begin [peace] talks” through airstrikes on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure — a tactic that was repeated recently when Russia unleashed a sophisticated drone attack on Ukraine facilities.
“At this stage [of the Russia-Ukraine war], I’d say there isn’t any diplomatic track [other than a full withdrawal]. The Russians may be willing to talk, but only on their terms,” Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, told NewsmaxTV.com on Tuesday while appearing on “John Bachman Now.”
“Putin doesn’t even want to negotiate with Ukraine. He wants to negotiate with the U.S., and NATO, and make some kind of deal over the Ukrainians’ heads,” added Volker.
Another hint of Putin experiencing feelings of uncertainty and isolation, even among his most trusted confidants: When speaking to the Post, several analysts acknowledged the postponement of Putin’s annual State of the Nation address, when he typically outlines the country’s plans for the coming year.
Putin has also reportedly canceled the traditional, end-of-the-year news conference, when journalists from around the globe are invited to speak directly with him.
“In the address, there should be a plan. But there is no plan. I think they just don’t know what to say,” the anonymous billionaire told the Post. “[Putin] is in isolation, of course. He doesn’t like speaking with people, anyway. He has a very narrow circle, and now it has gotten narrower still.”