Some analysts consider that Mr. Putin is risking the same destiny. “He’ll lose Russia due to Ukraine,” mentioned Mr. Fishman, who has simply completed a e-book about why democracy did not take maintain in Russia after the Soviet collapse. Others are much less emphatic, particularly within the quick time period, and word the favored indicators of assist for him inside Russia. Nonetheless, they warning that Mr. Putin is uncharacteristically taking part in a poker recreation with an unpredictable ending.
“This has been a serious failure in Europe’s greatest land battle since 1945, and that could be a huge failure,” mentioned Clifford Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, a political danger evaluation agency in Washington. “I might not guess futures in Russian political stability over a five-year interval.”
Whereas Mr. Putin has publicly emphasised the safety risk posed by a westward leaning Ukraine as a cause for going to battle, others say his deepest concern is the potential political fallout from residing subsequent door to a boisterous democracy with respectable financial prospects.
“Putin’s final nightmare is a coloration revolution in Russia, and that’s the lens via which he views individuals voting in Ukraine,” mentioned Mr. Kupchan. “As a result of it’s so shut, culturally, the specter of contagion as he perceives it’s even better.”
Mr. Putin’s successes are legion, particularly his whole profession arc from an obscure, midlevel intelligence agent — pressured to drive a taxi to make ends meet after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc — to turning into one of many longest-running leaders ever to occupy the Kremlin.
But in Ukraine, Mr. Putin, 69, has taken repeated missteps.
In 2004, he campaigned personally within the presidential election on behalf of his most popular candidate, Viktor F. Yanukovych, whom he twice congratulated on his win. However widespread accusations of voting fraud sparked a nationalist backlash and the Orange Revolution, with road protests culminating in the end within the election of Viktor A. Yushchenko (who was poisoned throughout the marketing campaign) as president in a Western-oriented authorities.