As Russian troops suffer setbacks on the battlefields of Ukraine, the Kremlin is more likely to use extraordinary measures to stop the deterioration of the Russian military. Such measures may range from using the winter season as a weapon to employing nuclear weapons. The current partial mobilization of the armed forces is the first step in the new phase of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The stakes for Moscow in this war are much higher than the setbacks caused by the lost battles. Historically, lost wars in Russia have been followed by severe national crises often accompanied by internally generated regime changes. To avert this eventuality, the Kremlin has to avoid further losses, solidify its gains in southeastern and southern Ukraine, and force Kyiv and its Western supporters to recognize Moscow’s war gains by ceasing hostilities and signing a peace agreement.