Is the Russian military machine possible without Putin?

Military defeat, demise of Putin’s regime and demilitarization of Russia is a wishful discussion in Ukrainian and international media. The logic behind such thinking is based on international criminal law. Ukraine rightfully expects prosecution of Russian war criminals, reparations from the aggressor and further improvement in security guarantees after the war. Nevertheless, Russian military power is an independent asset that is not fully linked to the fate of its commander-in-chief.

Putin used to rely on the FSB more than the Army whose command still has some autonomy in decision making and will not be shaken by Putin’s fall. Even if the current political and military elite in Russia is wiped out, revanchist sentiments in the Russian society will remain and may result in armed conflicts in 5-10 years. Nuclear weapons will likely stay in Russia under any government. There are no effective international mechanisms to pressure Russia into giving up the nukes and no vision for security guarantees for Russia without them. Russia’s ties with military groups in Belarus, Africa and the Middle East, as well as its capacity for cyber warfare, can survive regardless of economic sanctions.  

The future of the Russian military machine depends on multiple factors – not just Putin – and can pose unexpected risks regardless of economic decline. Ukraine in Flames #47 explores several scenarios.


  • Vitalii Rybak, chief analyst at Internews Ukraine
  • Anatolii Shara, big data analyst, freelance journalist
  • Yarema Dukh, political advisor and communications expert
  • Nina Kuryata, media expert.

UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media CenterUkrainian Catholic University’s analitical center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”.  We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.

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