How a war of destruction could pit a tiny elite against itself
This is a very helpful post. Thank you. I’m having trouble conceiving a favorable outcome for Ukraine. Even if Ukraine retains most of its territory the country has already paid a huge price. And Russia isn’t going away.
Your knowledge of current politics and political power inside Russia so far exceeds my own as to make any observations by myself on your remarks foolish and pointless. What I take away from them is however that there are more power centers and space between them then may be readily apparent to outside observers. If that is the case it still remains to be seen which if any of those separations might be exploited and by whom.
Answers to that question might allow us to better evaluate potential outcomes or the consequences of any power struggles. What seems clear to me is that the various power centers are aligned along several axises. Those are political, military, intelligence/security, commercial/industrial/economic/finance, and civilian.
Of those various power centers civilian I believe can be discounted as a viable power center within Russia at least for the moment unless or until one or more of the other centers of power should step forward to claim leadership. There is insufficient power or cohesion in a civilian power center to effect any real change without the alignment of one or more of the others.
Putin has shown an ability to be both quite ruthless and effective at maintaining control of the political and economic centers of power. There again as with the civilian sector it would require their alliance with one or more of the other power centers to effect any real change. I also see such an alignment unlikely until another center of power steps forward.
This leaves only the military and intelligence/security centers of power with enough real power to threaten Putin’s dominance. It is not unlikely they would see an alliance of convenience if Putin seeks to blame them and perhaps even move against the leadership of those power centers if his plans for Ukraine continue to fail dramatically. We cannot know with any certainty where the failures for Russia’s invasion lie for certain or how they are properly attributed. However it is quite likely Putin, his military leadership, and that of the intelligence and security services are already jockeying to see which will wear the failures. Whichever two of those align the third will be overwhelmed.
Unfortunately as the world waits for the victor(s) of that struggle to emerge, Ukraine is being destroyed.
Necrophiliac sublimation. Whoa, wow!
It is my hope that sanctions are not lifted until Russia's complete withdrawal from Ukraine. Starve the regime of foreign currency and income, use frozen assets to finance the growing refugee crisis and to prepare financing to rebuild. Continue to reach the Russian people with the truth, so that they continue peacefully protesting the invasion. Would this put enough pressure on the Police and interior security forces, so that they begin to refuse to crackdown on peaceful protesters? As disillusioned Russian regular soldiers return home and support the truth, how could this help weaken Putin's kleptocratic authoritarianism? We know that the Ukrainian and Russian people do not hate each other. If a critical mass of Russians realize Putin's manipulation, could the above be a road to peace, a road to freedom, and a democracy in Russia?
I suggest reading in today's Guardian: Mihail Shishkin's op-ed entitled 'Neither Nato nor Ukraine Can de-Purtnize Russia. We Russians Must Do It Ourselves."
Someday you should write a book. :)
An incisive and valuable analysis of Russia's predicament. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the Bald Butcher's inner sanctum!!
A Finnish military intelligence guy reminds that the historic Russian pattern is for the autocrat and the people to be blameless and the middle ranks--boyars, service aristocracy, party, security and military types--to take the blame. Remember Putin's televised meetings with oligarchs and state security types? That's not just to prove to the public he has support, it's also to ensure public buy-in to the autocrat's plan, the better to distribute blame if need arises. Stalin did the same thing, just not in public. For him, what mattered that the party knew.
A hard shit-storm's gonna fall . . .
Thank you for this helpful post and for the links to articles so I can also share those with some of my more uninformed friends.
I hope that the elites will turn against Putin and unseat him from power too, but I am not hopeful because they too are tainted with the tinge of corruption. It's not in their interests to have a rule-of-law state emerge in Putin's absence.
As usual another helpful overview of this truly terrible situation. I have a great deal of concern about Syrian mercenaries as well as those from Chechnya. There was an interesting essay in Le Monde from Jonathan Littell which I had seen in Meduza as well, in a less smooth translation. These are times I wish I had paid attention to the Russian language lessons I began during the pandemic. But alas . . .
There seems to be a new translation from Ukraine: