But if Russian forces are defeated or continue to suffer humiliating defeats, Putin’s position will be more precarious at home, Andrei Fedorov, Russia’s former deputy foreign minister, told NBC News last week.

«Things can be [a] little different if Russia will not succeed. The absence of a victory will call into question the legitimacy of Russia’s 2024 election,” she said.

Demographic changes will also be a challenge, Federov added. With the older Russians who make up the majority of Putin’s power base dying naturally, the younger urbanites who have historically populated the ranks of the now embattled opposition may become more influential.

“Remember that in the 2024 elections there will already be… fewer voters from the Soviet generation, and quite critical young people will be able to vote,” he said.

With Ukraine preparing for fresh fighting in the coming months, the recent diplomatic spat between Germany and the United States over the supply of Western heavy tanks to Ukraine raised the curtain on tensions over the outcome of upcoming battles.

Russian army soldiers practice Tuesday at a military training camp in Russian-controlled areas in the eastern Donetsk region. Alexei Alexandrov / AP

“The Americans like winners, and if the Ukrainians are on the offensive in 6 or 8 months, then I think they will see a lot more support,” said a senior adviser to a Republican senator.

“Part of the challenge here is setting the conditions now so that they can succeed and be able to maintain American support,” said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak officially.

The supply of tanks, which crucially come with a lot of munitions already produced, will be important, he said.

But Ukraine also needs «long-range artillery, mines and cluster munitions to drive the enemy into ‘kill boxes’ which they then quickly hit with tanks, armored personnel carriers and mounted infantry,» the aide said. “As they move forward, they need layered air defense support and offensive close air support.”

Predict another slow process:

“The Germans and the US are going to resist helicopters and fighters. You can’t tell Ukraine to fight like a Western army and not give them these things, but it will still be painfully slow for them to get them.»

While support for Ukraine is nearly universal in Congress, Republicans are divided on how far to go and how much help to provide, with some on the party’s right suggesting Americans should focus on the closest challenges instead of spending thousands. of millions in a foreign war.