(CNN) — The biggest problem for Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president in 2023, is fueling his war in Ukraine, both in terms of men and material.
During a visit to the arms factory in mid-January, he praised the workers for ramping up production to 3 shifts a day, 24/7. He told them that they would be exempted from being called up for military service in Ukraine.
Hundreds of thousands of military-age men left Russia last year.
More than 100,000 Russian soldiers are believed to have already been killed in Ukraine.
This is by far the most unpopular aspect of Putin’s war, and more recruitment could fuel more hatred for him.
But at the rate he’s burning players on the front line, it means this predicament is only going to get worse.
Your second big problem is paying to feed the war.
International sanctions are starting to take their toll, and if it’s chewing into the pockets of Russian citizens, Putin has a problem.
The dangerous austerity policy Putin is trying to pursue includes keeping the ruble high and keeping people in jobs. It will become even more difficult: Next year’s cold winter and an increase in impoverished Russians on the streets could increase the risk of a revolt against the war and against Putin.
And it will play into one of Putin’s long-term concerns: the 2024 elections.
Support for Putin
In 2021 he signed legislation allowing him to remain president until 2036, but he built a house of cards. Russian elections are neither free nor fair.
Putin has eliminated his dissidents by jailing opposition leaders and seizing control of all media.
But even that would require Russian power brokers to fight each other mafia-style.
If you can’t profit from the war in Ukraine – or worse, if it starts to accumulate losses– His grip on the power play may weaken in Russia.
All that is still a long way off; His immediate problem is paying his fees for being a “butcher” in Ukraine.