The Kremlin Must Be in Crisis

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  hallux  •  2 months ago  •  43 comments

By:   Anne Applebaum - The Atlantic

The Kremlin Must Be in Crisis

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



If an American president announced a major speech, booked the networks for 8 p.m., and then disappeared until the following morning, the analysis would be immediate and damning:   chaos, disarray, indecision .   The White House must be in crisis.

In the past 24 hours, this is exactly what happened in Moscow. The Russian president really did announce a major speech, alert state television, warn journalists, and then disappear without explanation. Although Vladimir Putin finally   gave his speech   to the nation this morning, the same conclusions have to apply: chaos, disarray, indecision. The Kremlin must be in crisis.

In fact, no elements of the delayed speech were completely new or unexpected. Russian authorities have long intended to   hold sham referenda   in the Ukrainian territories they occupy. Putin and his television propagandists have been making subtle and unsubtle nuclear threats since February. Quietly, a creeping mobilization has been going on for many weeks too, as the Russian army has sought to recruit more men to replace the soldiers who it still does not admit have been killed, wounded, or exhausted by the war. But now that Ukraine has   successfully recaptured   thousands of square miles   of Russian-held territory, the sham referenda are being rushed, the nuclear language is being repeated, and the mobilization expanded. These are not the actions of a secure leader assured of his legitimacy and of the outcome of this war.

In part, the crisis stems from Putin’s fears that he will lose whatever counts as his international support. No ideology holds together the global autocrats’ club, and no sentiment does either. As long as they believed Russia really had the second largest army in the world, as long as Putin seemed destined to stay in power indefinitely, then the leaders of China, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, along with the strongmen running India and Turkey, were happy to tolerate his company.

But Putin’s supposedly inevitable military victory is in jeopardy. His army looks weak. Western sanctions make problems not just for him but his   trading partners , and their tolerance is receding. At a summit in Uzbekistan last week, he   was snubbed   by a series of Central Asian leaders. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi   told him   that “today’s era is not an era of war,” and Chinese President Xi Jinping   expressed   his “concerns” as well. On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told PBS that he   had urged Putin   to end the war: “The lands which were invaded will be returned to Ukraine.” And those lands, he made clear, should include Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, following a sham referendum much like the ones it now plans to stage in other parts of occupied Ukraine.

But while losing support abroad is bad, losing support at home is worse, and there are some signs of that too. Putin might not care much about the Russian liberals and exiles who oppose the war, but he may worry (and should worry) about people who are supposed to be on his side—people such as Alla Pugacheva, a Soviet-era pop star who has millions of mainstream followers and has recently proclaimed both her patriotism and her opposition to the war. Putin may also worry about the disappointed, pro-war nationalist bloggers, active on social media, who have been criticizing the conduct of the war for some time. “Mobilization is, let’s put it bluntly, our only chance to avoid a crushing defeat,” one of them  recently wrote . No one has stopped or arrested these critics, perhaps because they have protectors high up inside the security services, or perhaps because they are connected to the heavily armed mercenaries who are now doing much of the important fighting in Ukraine. If their loyalty isn’t assured, then Putin isn’t secure either.

At the same time, the Russian president has to balance the discontent of that heavily armed minority against the wishes of the mostly apathetic, mostly silent majority. For the past six months, Putin has been telling the latter that there is no war, just a special military operation; that Russia has suffered no losses, just some temporary setbacks. Given that the army is victorious and everything is fine, most people need not alter their lives in any way. Now events have forced Putin to change his language, but it seems there are limits. Thus he speaks not of a true mass mobilization—which would involve conscripting young men in enormous numbers—but of partial mobilization: no students, no general call-up, just the activation of reservists with past military experience. Supposedly Russia has 300,000 such people, though it’s not clear how many of them are actually fit to fight or whether there are enough weapons and gear for them either. Presumably, if better equipment were available, it would already be on the battlefield.

Finally, and perhaps most important, the speech and a series of legal changes announced yesterday reflect a crisis inside the military. In truth, the Russian army faces not just a logistical emergency or some tactical problems but also a collapse in morale. That’s why Putin needs more soldiers, and that’s why, as in Stalin’s time, the Russian state has now defined “voluntary surrender” as a crime: Under a law   approved by the Russian Parliament yesterday,   you can be sent to prison for up to 10 years. If you desert your guard post in Donetsk or Kherson (or change into civilian clothes and run away, as some Russian soldiers have done in the past few weeks). The state has also decreed new penalties for mutiny—“using violence against a superior”—and stealing while in uniform. If the Russian army were a reliable, enthusiastic, dedicated fighting force, then the state would not need to declare harsh punishments for deserters, looters, and mutineers. But it is not.

Over the next few days, the bogus referenda will gather headlines, and the nuclear threats will create fear, as they were designed to do. But we should understand these attempts at blackmail and intimidation as a part of the deeper story told by this delayed speech: Support for Putin is eroding—abroad, at home, and in the army. Everything else he says and does right now is nothing more than an attempt to halt that decline.


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Hallux
Junior Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    2 months ago

512

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Hallux @1    2 months ago

putin is about to learn a few hard lessons. he won't survive all of them.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2  Sparty On    2 months ago

As the world inches closer and closer to Nuclear Armageddon, politicians continue to fiddle away with their petty, self serving agendas ......

 
 
 
SteevieGee
Masters Silent
2.1  SteevieGee  replied to  Sparty On @2    2 months ago

Way to take a side dude.  Directly in the middle of the ambiguity camp.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  SteevieGee @2.1    2 months ago

Thanks for the compliment.    

Being in the middle these days is usually a good thing.     The Ukraine situation is a great example of that.    Putin/Russia caused the immediate problem but Biden/NATO are doing little to nothing that is actually going to solve it.    In fact, they are only making it worse.    Effective diplomatic efforts are almost non existent.

Everyone should be very uncomfortable with the handling of the current situation in Ukraine but I guess some folks are just too stupid and/or programmed to see it.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3  Kavika     2 months ago

According to the latest reports Putin's ''mobilization'' isn't going too well.

The referendums using collaborators is suffering as well with a number of them being killed by Ukraine partisans using bombs, bullets and poison are taking a toll and many of them now have to have armed Russian guards to leave their house. Not a good time to be a traitor.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @3    2 months ago

there's a few videos on youtube of russians and russia-leaning uke's getting blown up.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
4  Sean Treacy    2 months ago

I think Putin is trying to escalate with the hopes of deescalating. The mobilization and nuclear rhetoric is posturing to signal that Russia is prepared to make this a long, incredibly costly war, in the hopes it will spur some of sort way to exit the war  with  his regime intact.

It’s desperation times for Putin. The army’s morale has apparently collapsed and simply holding territory might become increasingly difficult to do.  Mobilization brings the reality of an unpopular war to the peoples’ doorsteps and combined with economic hardships has created a home front that isn’t in much better shape than it was in February 1918.

If things continue to trend poorly, turning this into a war against nato may be Putin’s Hail Mary to stay in power.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
5  Nerm_L    2 months ago

Crisis, crisis, we always think in terms of crisis.  What should scare people is that it's obvious the Russian government is in transition.  We don't know who is in charge now.  And it's beginning to look like there is a fight for control within the Russian government.

We don't know if Putin retains control over the Russian nuclear arsenal at this point.  Putin may no longer have sufficient control over the bureaucracies to stop the war in Ukraine if he wants to.  And its quite possible that hardliners in the bureaucracies will get the upper hand and will escalate.  

Cheer all you want.  But keep in mind that the Russian government is not structured and does not function as ours does.  The removal of Putin could just as easily signal an escalation.  Toppling Putin won't necessarily be a good thing.  Weakening Putin will allow the bureaucracies more autonomy, power, and control.  So, the war in Ukraine could spin out of control pretty quickly.  The situation could become much, much worse before it gets any better.

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
5.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Nerm_L @5    2 months ago

Maybe an uplifting song for you:

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
5.1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Hallux @5.1    2 months ago

jrSmiley_86_smiley_image.gif   Good one!

They're running for the borders in desperation.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
5.1.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Hallux @5.1    2 months ago

God I love this one! It may only make sense if one is a Monty Python fan and has seen "The Life of Brian".jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
5.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  Nerm_L @5    2 months ago
What should scare people is that it's obvious the Russian government is in transition.  We don't know who is in charge now.  And it's beginning to look like there is a fight for control within the Russian government.

There has been more vocal dissent sure, but Putin still seems, by all measures, to be firmly in charge.

We don't know if Putin retains control over the Russian nuclear arsenal at this point.  Putin may no longer have sufficient control over the bureaucracies to stop the war in Ukraine if he wants to.  And its quite possible that hardliners in the bureaucracies will get the upper hand and will escalate.  

Again, all signs are that Putin is in charge and there is no hint of a change in government. 

The removal of Putin could just as easily signal an escalation.  Toppling Putin won't necessarily be a good thing.  Weakening Putin will allow the bureaucracies more autonomy, power, and control.  So, the war in Ukraine could spin out of control pretty quickly.  The situation could become much, much worse before it gets any better.

The only way it could really get worse is if the Russians use nukes. That is basically it. Russia threw the best it had at Ukraine and failed miserably, they have very little left to threaten anyone else with outside of nukes. The Russians can use the old Soviet tactic of drowning the enemy in blood, but it won't work this time. The dynamics are so fucking different from the 1940s that this may as well be in another universe. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
6  TᵢG    2 months ago
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told PBS that he      had urged Putin      to end the war: “The lands which were invaded will be returned to Ukraine.” And those lands, he made clear, should include Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, following a sham referendum much like the ones it now plans to stage in other parts of occupied Ukraine.

Agreed.

“Mobilization is, let’s put it bluntly, our only chance to avoid a crushing defeat,”

Hopefully this is accurate.

In truth, the Russian army faces not just a logistical emergency or some tactical problems but also a collapse in morale.

No doubt.


Fuck Putin.   He well deserves the Mussolini treatment.   Hopefully the non-sheeple Russian people can pull this off.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
6.1  JBB  replied to  TᵢG @6    2 months ago

One day in 1964 Nikita Khrushchev had American school children cowering under their desks. The next day, "Poofsky", he was gone...

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
6.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  JBB @6.1    2 months ago

That was 1962 and he wasn’t ousted until 1964.    Mainly for other reasons.

Now that must have been the longest “poofski” in history.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
6.1.2  JBB  replied to  Sparty On @6.1.1    2 months ago

No, Khrushchev was in charge till Oct 14, 1964. Just as I said!

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
6.1.3  Sparty On  replied to  JBB @6.1.2    2 months ago
No, Khrushchev was in charge till Oct 14, 1964. Just as I said!

Nope.   Read my comment again.    Once again you are wrong.    In this case you are wrong about saying I was wrong.

The Cuban missile crisis was in 1962.    The “next day” as you say, when he was ousted, was nearly two years later in 1964.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
6.1.4  TᵢG  replied to  Sparty On @6.1.3    2 months ago

Instead of childish nit-picking you could have chosen to thoughtfully comment on JBB's point.

Do you understand the point he made?

My understanding is this.   There is precedent in the history of Russia/USSR for leaders to be deposed by political forces due to failed policies.   The key failed policy in the case of Putin is the Ukraine war.   JBB is suggesting that Putin could be similarly deposed.

Do you disagree with his point?   If so, why?

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
6.1.5  Sparty On  replied to  TᵢG @6.1.4    2 months ago

Lol ...... [Deleted] that sophomoric insult is hilarious.    I understood the english he wrote just fine and shouldn’t need to remind you I could care less what you think here.

My posts all speak for themselves and are spot on.  No more explanation/illumination is needed and [Deleted]  I can confidently leave it at that.

[Deleted]

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
6.1.6  JBB  replied to  Sparty On @6.1.5    2 months ago

No, my comment #6.1 had zero to do with the Cuban Missile Crisis and everything to do with how quickly and unexpectedly Nikita Khrushchev was deposed on October 14th 1964. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
6.1.7  Sparty On  replied to  Sparty On @6.1.5    2 months ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
6.1.8  Sparty On  replied to  JBB @6.1.6    2 months ago

You’re probably too young to have experienced that the entire country was cowering under their desk in October of 62.     By 64 we had regular school drills for that.

Keep digging ......

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
6.1.9  JBB  replied to  Sparty On @6.1.8    2 months ago

If you are old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis then you are also old enough to get confused about what people are taking about. We were talking about Vlad Putin maybe suddenly losing his grasp on power, like Khrushchev.

[Deleted]

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
6.1.10  Sparty On  replied to  JBB @6.1.9    2 months ago

Lol .... nice ageism.    

I guess that bigotry doesn’t fall under the current woke/progressive agenda and is okay with you eh?

Lets put it this way, my level of cognition runs laps around the old man you elected president and regularly defend.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
6.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  TᵢG @6    2 months ago

Either that or General Hideki Tojo of Japan. When the American authorities went to arrest him he tried to shoot himself in the heart but missed. He survived and the Allies nursed him back to health, tried and convicted him of war  crimes, then hung him! Rather ironic and appropriate. I would love to see the same for Vicious Vlad.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
6.2.1  Split Personality  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @6.2    2 months ago

Wasn't there an outer limit episode where they revive the condemned over and over again every time they executed him by hanging?

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
6.2.2  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Split Personality @6.2.1    2 months ago

Don't know, but I do know the Vatican once dug up a dead pope and put the corpse on trial and convicted it....

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
7  Ed-NavDoc    2 months ago

Stalin and the former Soviet Union held the same kind of sham elections for decades after the end of WW II with the Warsaw Pact and Soviet bloc countries. Putin, being a great admirer of Stalin, and having dreams of recreating a new Soviet state has zero problems doing it now all over again. Only problem is that may have bitten off more than he is capable of chewing.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
7.1  TᵢG  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @7    2 months ago
Only problem is that may have bitten off more than he is capable of chewing.

Hopefully.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
7.1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  TᵢG @7.1    2 months ago

Yep, kind of like trying to swallow

 a fish bone.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
7.1.2  Split Personality  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @7.1.1    2 months ago

or contain the internet.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
7.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @7    2 months ago
The removal of Putin could just as easily signal an escalation.  Toppling Putin won't necessarily be a good thing.  Weakening Putin will allow the bureaucracies more autonomy, power, and control.  So, the war in Ukraine could spin out of control pretty quickly.  The situation could become much, much worse before it gets any better.

Apparently he did not realize that the world is vastly different now than it was when the USSR was created and came to prominence. 

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
8  Ender    2 months ago

Another official has mysteriously died over there. Supposedly fell down some stairs or something...

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
8.1  Split Personality  replied to  Ender @8    2 months ago

...found dead in pool, hung themselves, shot themselves multiple times, jumped from a hospital

room or sky scraper.

They seem to have given up on poisons.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
8.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Split Personality @8.1    2 months ago

Maybe he was Epstein’d

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
8.1.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  Sparty On @8.1.1    2 months ago

You are saying Trump had something to do with it? In conjunction with the lizard people? [Deleted]

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
8.1.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Split Personality @8.1    2 months ago

And then said they died of "natural causes".

 
 
 
Revillug
Freshman Guide
9  Revillug    2 months ago

I'll believe Putin is on the verge of being ousted when he actually gets ousted.

Putin man managed to install a Russian asset in the WH.

For that matter, the entire GOP looks like it is riddled with Russian assets.

Putin managed to get Britain to leave the EU.

Brutal authoritarians can hold on to power for a very long time. Look at North Korea.

Oh, and not only does Russia have more nukes than we do they have more kinds of nukes than we do.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
9.1  Texan1211  replied to  Revillug @9    2 months ago
Putin man managed to install a Russian asset in the WH.

Who is it?

For that matter, the entire GOP looks like it is riddled with Russian assets.

Is that what you feel, or do you have real proof?

Putin managed to get Britain to leave the EU.

Looks like you think Putin is far more effective than what the facts tell the rest of us.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
9.2  Gsquared  replied to  Revillug @9    2 months ago
Putin man managed to install a Russian asset in the WH.

Yes, and Trump was very accommodating of many of Putin's foreign policy goals, as is well-documented.

the entire GOP looks like it is riddled with Russian assets

There are far too many in the GOP who support Putin's goals.  This link provides a brief summary in the context of Ukraine: 

Putin managed to get Britain to leave the EU

The main Brexit leader, Nigel Farage is, of course, closely aligned with Putin.  There is a strong suspicion that Putin helped propel Brexit, but the U.K. government under Boris Johnson did not take adequate steps to investigate. 

 
 
 
Revillug
Freshman Guide
9.2.1  Revillug  replied to  Gsquared @9.2    2 months ago

Thank you for providing the references.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
9.2.2  Texan1211  replied to  Revillug @9.2.1    2 months ago

[deleted]

 
 

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