What does the future hold for Putin?

Three important summits attended by leaders from Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including Vladimir Putin, are currently taking place in the Kazakh capital Astana. Observers comment on the Kremlin boss's growing isolation and ask whether he shouldn't finally be removed from office.

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Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Take the same approach as with bin Laden

Neatkarīgā's deputy editor-in-chief Elita Veidemane demands Putin's removal from office:

“The terrorist Bin Laden is said to have around 3,000 people on his conscience. He was killed. ... The war criminal Putin has killed tens of thousands of people in Ukraine since 2014. Why has he not yet been arrested and eliminated? How long will the cowardly West continue to protect itself with the bodies of murdered Ukrainians? Where are the 'terrible consequences' promised by the West? Will it confine itself to 'concern and fear'? Or will it finally get its act together and give the mad murderer and his lackeys a good kick in the teeth?”

The Independent (GB) /

Successor could be even worse

Even if Putin were toppled this would not necessarily improve the situation, The Independent points out:

“Worth noting is that the fiercest public criticism of the war in Russia is coming not from the liberal left, but from the nationalist right. This means that those loudly agitating from abroad for the downfall of Putin need to be careful about what they wish for. A new leader in the Kremlin could be the very opposite of the more compliant individual they crave. This does not mean that a new leader in the Kremlin might not presage a U-turn in Russian policy, with minimum loss of face, and the chance for a new start in relations with Ukraine and the West. It might. But it might also produce a tougher version of the same.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

A dangerous Achilles' heel

Radio Kommersant FM sees Russia in decline even where its influence was previously undisputed:

“For the Kremlin, the preparations for the summit are taking place against an alarming background. From the 'near abroad' in particular, there has been unpleasant news in the past few days. The most unexpected was the (last-minute) cancellation of the CSTO command staff exercises by Kyrgyzstan, where they were to take place. ... The post-Soviet states are in no hurry to come to Russia's aid. Most fear secondary sanctions by the West. ... In general, the 'near abroad', where until recently Moscow's position seemed unassailable, is becoming Russia's Achilles heel.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

India turning its back on Russia

In the UN vote on Russia's annexations in Ukraine, India no longer backed Putin but instead abstained. Dagens Nyheter sees the country on a cautious path towards the West:

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is admittedly not a leader who has much respect for freedom of expression or democratic values. But China has been ruled out as a partner, and it's clear that the country's future cannot be tied up with Putin's now completely discredited project either: India's journey to the West will not be straightforward, but the alternatives are far worse.”

NV (UA) /

Increasingly isolated internationally

Putin can no longer count on China and Turkey either, journalist Ivan Yakovyna observes in NV:

“The global instability that this war has engendered is fuelling inflation in Europe and the US. People are buying fewer goods produced in India, China and Turkey. ... So it's very important for these countries that the war should end as soon as possible. They are losing a lot of money. There could be a recession that leads to political instability. Erdoğan has elections coming up next year. China - a country for which growth is of existential importance - has entered an era of economic stagnation. ... When Putin turned 70 on October 7, China did not officially congratulate him on his birthday.”

The New Times (RU) /

At least the Soviet Union was predictable

The New Times comments:

“Russia under Putin is viewed as a lost cause in terms of neighbourly relations, even at the level of the long-resolved confrontation between two systems. Unlike the Soviet leaders, Putin does not recognise rules. The Soviet Politburo was a model of restraint and responsible behaviour in word and deed compared to today's leaders. ... With its 'special operation', Russia is losing whatever soft power it had. The country is becoming increasingly unattractive - even for its own citizens, as we can see from the number of people fleeing it.”

To Vima (GR) /

No quick end to war without him

To Vima believes there is a way out for Putin without losing too much face:

“Lifting sanctions against Russia would be possible if it withdraws from the territories it has occupied since its invasion until the permanent status of the annexed territories has been clarified. ... Of course, it may be difficult for Putin to accept the conflict ending this way and still consider it a victory. But he can use his propaganda to convince public opinion that he has stopped the aggressive and hostile efforts of Western countries against Russia and 'denazified' Ukraine. ... The price the West would have to pay for this strategic solution is that it would have to accept Putin staying in power for some time to come.”

Dnevnik (BG) /

He won't give up

Putin will not give up his plans to conquer as much of Ukraine as possible, Dnevnik warns:

“He believes that time will work in Russia's favour. That the West won't be able to preserve its unity in the event of a prolonged war or continue to support Kyiv as it is doing now. Whether or not he is right, we cannot know, but one thing is clear: the US and the EU must continue to support Ukraine militarily, economically and politically, as well as putting pressure on Moscow with sanctions. For now, the initiative is still on the Ukrainian side. Kyiv has a real chance to liberate more territories and it is in our common interest to seize this opportunity.”