123 Comments

This is a fascinating piece. Dizzying and awesome in your coverage. Thank you.

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Thank you. Your articles enable me to feel a little optimistic about the long term direction of this war, the brutality of which sometimes overwhelms me.

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We in the USA may seem to have a surfeit of politics, but with the Republican party embracing the irrationality of religious habits of mind and absolutist creed while abandoning the constitutional framework of coming to consensus through reasoned debate of empirical evidence - in transferring power, legislating, and deciding the law - the institutions of government have been compromised; they can no longer protect the general welfare of the people through equality before the law and equal representation. With the legally unsupported expansion of the freedom to worship to mean that any expression of 'religious conscience' can take priority of all civil rights protections and all civc law, the entire enterprise of a democratic republic is being repurposed to serve clerical fascism. (A government which cannot enforce the constitutional protections of civic law also cannot enforce government regulations on business, banking, and industry or administer a system of equitable taxation.) Just as the law is drained of justice. Politics is drained of participation in a fair contest. Instead it is a bacchanal of populist fervor serving the American oligarchy. Explicitly on the Right, with the complicity of the Left.

https://www.becketlaw.org/leonard-leo-speech-2017-canterbury-medal-gala/

https://www.propublica.org/article/leonard-leo-teneo-videos-documents

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A question for Dr. Snyder:

Are we now seeing with the rise of politics in Russia, with the dynamics you describe, the beginning of competition amongst Putin’s likely successors. It seems Yevgeny Prigozhin is positioning himself to gather support from multiple contesting parties for accession to greater power and influence. I can envision him positioning himself as the “savior” amidst rising chaos and competing powers surrounding the Ukrainian conflict that has now crossed the Russian border. While this is all happening in what is realistically a small corner of Russia, the news cannot be entirely masked from the Russian people. In part this is compounded by competing propagandists who seem to have a reach now beginning to rival that of Russian state media. All of this must be weakening Putin’s ability to control the narrative of events and hence weaken his own image. As players like Yevgeny Prigozhin and others see Putin weakened and the rise of political conflict it seems logical they may seek to consolidate their own power and influence. I can foresee a scenario where Yevgeny Prigozhin unites several of the other military powers now competing with each other and declares himself not only a military power but siezes civil authority as well. It seems possible Putin’s Ukraine adventurism may have sown the seeds of his own fall and demise.

What do you see as the likely evolution scenarios of the present conflicts and raise of politics in Russia. I realize there are always multiple paths this may take, but am interested in your views of those most likely.

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Dr Snyder -- I appreciate your repeated ability to find an appropriately distanced vantage point -- enabled by your years of scholarship -- to try to interpret current developments. For the sake of Ukrainians, and possibly Russians, let's hope you are seeing this right.

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This is the best. Thanks for posting. Your ability to cut through and describe the key, often surprising things that are going on is really useful. I’ve been relaying points to my friends in Ukraine.

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Tim, great insights and information on the current state of affairs within Russia. With all the internal strife, at least 3 competing groups within the current regime 1-2 more of Russian groups now crossing the border I have a simple question. “Who is really in charge in Russia?” I ask because clearly if Putin was in full control, Prigozhin and Kadyrov would be brought to heel. MoD clearly is not in control of anything. It would also seem as if Putin has lost control of the situation. Allowing and being unable to thwart border incursions, shelling your own cities, and thoughtless and mindless destruction that also takes out his own people in defensive positions with the destruction of the Nova Khakova dam and cutting off water to Crimea shows there is no control or strategy at all. Is it just as simple as pure nihilism and destruction now for its own sake? Burn it all down if Putin cannot have it? Seems so to me.

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I didn't know that, formally at least, Akhmat is a part of Rosgvardiya.

"Kadyrov then found a good occasion to change the subject, suggesting publicly that his men from Akhmat should be sent to Russia's Belgorod region as a response to -- yet more Russian armed formations." Ah, so THIS is why Kadyrov has been talking about being sent to Belgorod. I didn't know it was about a dispute between him and P.

"But it can be taken for granted that the panicked inhabitants of Russia's border regions would not be soothed by the arrival of armed Chechens." Ha! No indeed.

Another helpful essay, Professor Snyder.

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Russia is caught between using its military to fight attacks within its own borders and invading Ukraine. - UK Intel 😎 #TheResistance

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Sir, thank you for a detailed and brilliant commentary on what is happening. But you have not yet taken into consideration the ancient "slave soul" (рабская душа - Vasilii Grossman) of the Russians. DR-L.

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Thanks to Prof. Snyder for weaving together some disparate strains of the Ukrainian story around the theme of politics returning to Russia. In the short time since he published the piece, the Khakovka Dam has exploded and stories have surfaced suggesting that it was Ukraine that blew up the Nordstream gas pipelines in the Baltic last fall. Ukraine certainly had the motive except that Germany by then was well on the way toward freeing itself from dependence on Russian gas and had become a committed ally of Ukraine. Some early media reports said Ukraine blew up the dam. This does cut off water to Crimea at enormous cost to Ukraine. Stay tuned.

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Excellent!

I get the same takeaway listening to Mark Galeotti's "In Moscow's Shadows" (which puts me to sleep at night with minute details about Russian politics).There is confusion in trying to understand this all, and so it seems (to me anyway)this is representative of the actual confusion within. Putin is a juggler keeping so many balls going in the air. The balls, his trusted and tolerated lieutenants, vie for position and power. This set-up must protect him. I visualize this too as molecules bouncing off each other as they are heated up by the war. The war is for the purpose of keeping Putin in power. The stage is Ukraine. The people, Russians and Ukrainians, mean nothing.

Where does Putin get his seemingly firm power from? It grew little by little? But how he keeps it seems tenuous and dependent on everyone else in the various circles around him keeping theirs and vying for it.

In a crowd he's got a very smug look on his face and a faux confidence when he speaks. Otherwise I read the other day he does not want to be disturbed with news unless it's good news. It troubles greatly to hear that Putin has the country on a war footing for the foreseeable future.. if that is so and maintainable.

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Jun 8, 2023·edited Jun 15, 2023

Thanks for this commentary, Prof Snyder.

The commentary prompts review of your book, Black Earth. For me, thinking politically and thinking through the politics of others is difficult; makes me uneasy.

Ms. Ekaterina Schulmann's observations are relevant and useful. (INSIDE RUSSIA: REGIME STABILITY AND DYNAMICS OF PUBLIC OPINION. Lecture at Sciences Po, Ms. Ekaterina Schulman, Apr 20, 2023 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=287ErrPoXaI

This is a revised posting.

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As Kyra noted: it is a fascinating read!

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Ms. Tatiana Stanovaya has authored and published another appraisal of the current RF internal State strengths and vulnerabilities, along with the character changes of various elites and factions and of Russian working citizens. As political analysis, it is distinctive in that it comprehends views of distinct and apparently unrelated members of Russian and RF communities, while, at the same time, understands and explains societal changes that reveal similar tendencies and perceptual shifts. Politics return and reshape....

See at Foreign Affairs

or

Ocnus.Net / Dysfunctions

"Putin's Age of Chaos: The Dangers of Russian Disorder",

By Tatiana Stanovaya, Foreign Affairs, August 8, 2023

Aug 10, 2023

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Bob, one of the referrals you gave me has agreed to become our fiscal sponsor! Our project is moving forward. I thought it was a long shot posting on this substack, but figured I'd give it a try. THANK YOU so much!

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