Why is 2023 a pivotal year for Putin?
Russian President Vladimir Putin's biggest problem in 2023 will be fueling his war in Ukraine, both in men and materially.
On a visit to a weapons factory in mid-January, he praised the workers for ramping up production 3 shifts a day 24/7.
He told them that they would be exempt from being called up for military service in the Ukraine.
Hundreds of thousands of military-age men fled Russia last year for fear of being drafted.
More than 100,000 Russian servicemen are believed to have already been killed in Ukraine.
It is the most unpopular feature of Putin's war so far, more recruitment may breed more resentment towards him.
But at the rate at which he burns soldiers on the front line, it means this dilemma will only get worse.
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Your second biggest problem will be paying to feed the war.
International economic sanctions are beginning to take their toll, and if it chews into the pockets of Russian citizens, then Putin has a problem.
The dangerous tightrope walk that Putin is trying to get ahead involves keeping the value of the ruble high, keeping people in jobs.
This is only going to get more difficult: a cold winter next year and the increase of impoverished Russians on the streets could increase the risk of a revolt against the war and against Putin himself.
And this will play into Putin's long-term concerns: the 2024 elections.
Europe's warm winter is robbing Putin of a trump card in his war against Ukraine
Support for Putin
In 2021 he signed a law that allows him to remain leader until 2036, but he has built a house of cards.
Russian elections are neither free nor fair.
Putin has eliminated his dissidents by locking up opposition leaders, seizing control of all the media.
But even that requires Russian power brokers to engage in mafia-style fighting against one another.
If he can't make gains in the war in Ukraine — or worse, if he starts racking up losses — his grip on the power play in Russia could weaken.
All of that is still a long way off;
his immediate problem is paying the bill for being "the butcher" in the Ukraine.
War in UkraineVladimir Putin