From Foreign Affairs this Week 

by By Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan

Among the many questions surrounding Russia’s disastrous war in Ukraine, one of the most notable concerns the growing tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his own security services and military. The war started with Putin holding a televised security council meeting in which he humiliated Sergei Naryshkin, the chief of the foreign intelligence service, for insufficient enthusiasm about the invasion.

Two weeks later, with Russian forces facing high casualties and unexpected resistance, Putin placed two generals of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) under house arrest and began an investigation into bad intelligence and the misuse of funds earmarked for cultivating pro-Kremlin groups in Ukraine. He also forced a deputy commander of the National Guard to resign, apparently because of a criminal investigation.  In early April, one of the FSB generals who had been placed under house arrest was transferred to Lefortovo prison.

Then it was the military’s turn. For nearly two weeks in March, amid rumors that Putin was furious with the progress of the invasion, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the public face of the war and generally regarded as one of Putin’s most trusted lieutenants, disappeared from view. When Shoigu finally resurfaced, first in a video clip of a security council meeting and then in person at a conference in the Ministry of Defense, he appeared somber and withdrawn. At the end of March, U.S. intelligence forces suggested that the Russian Defense Ministry has not been giving Putin a clear picture of the war, perhaps out of fear of further repercussions.  And on April 9, Putin reorganized the military chain of command, appointing General Alexandr V. Dvornikov to be in charge of the operations in Ukraine.

At first glance, these developments suggest a striking change. In the years before the war, the siloviki, as Russia’s security elite is known, had been one of the main power centers of Putin’s regime. As a former KGB officer himself, Putin has long relied on the security services to enforce his policies and help him maintain his grip on power. And although the siloviki have been somewhat eclipsed by Shoigu’s Defense Ministry in recent years, never before has Putin appeared to be so at odds with both the security services and the military as he is now. Given Putin’s increasingly ruthless crackdown on these men and the growing awareness in Moscow that the war has gone badly, some observers are wondering how long they will tolerate his catastrophic mistakes.

Such questions, however, overlook the historical relationship between the security forces and the Russian state—and the particular way that Putin has built his base of power. Although the recent developments are noteworthy, they do not suggest a larger breakdown of the existing order. Even amid the current tensions, the chances that leading members of the security or military elite might make a move against Putin remain slim. It is worth considering, then, why this is so, and what might have to happen for that to change.


RTS Moskva Sank

Russian Navy’s Black Sea flagship RTS Moskva (121) has sunk while being towed toward Sevastopol, Crimea, after sustaining major damage in a fire Wednesday, Russian state media said on Thursday.

“During the towing of the Moskva cruiser to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to damage to the hull received during the fire from the detonation of ammunition. In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank,” the Russian ministry of defense told the TASS newswire.

The Russians claimed that the (potentially nuclear) main battery missiles (16 SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship cruise missiles – each about the size of a telephone pole) were not damaged in the explosions and fire…that’s what they said.


    • More of an artificial reef in 50 fathoms or so. Eventually when the war is over it will be advisable to check the wreck for nuclear leaks from warheads. Today, the fish are getting accustomed to a. new environment.

          • The Seawolf Class SSNs can recover objects from the bottom though details are classified. Getting into the Black Sea through the Bosphorus is another problem. It’s narrow, shallow and would require Turkish permission. Additionally there are 6 Russian submarines known to be in the Black Sea.

    • The Russians were careless, unaware of the value of commercial satellites than can track the Moskva moving slowly along a predictable track.

      Russians also have horrible damage control and the watertight doors very likely don’t have seals — not watertight.

        • I don’t know about the Moskva, but that is something that is COMMON with Russian warships. I know that for a fact. The Russian Navy does not routinely train in damage control. In the USN, the training is obsessive.

          • Was obsessive. The report on the Bonnie Dick fire (Bonhomme Richard) showed that the captain and senior officers and surface fleet command all had let damage control and firefighting skills lapse (probably because they took time away from birthing classes for men and other progressive dog squeezings.)

  1. I’ve long suspected you’re a telepath, RHSM, and this post confirms it.

    That in mind, will the Corpse survive the primaries?

    • The American elites are concerned about Biden and his replacement. I’ve suggested that the Democrats select Joe Manchin and that in so doing they save their party. You may ask about provisions of the Constitution, but the Democrats & elites pay little attention to that.

  2. there are rumors that moskva has a piece of the “one true cross” on board. no idea of the veracity of that but if true, things are getting spooky. i had email exchange w/ my rep in dc. the former country lawyer common sense guy has either drunk the kool-aid or been replaced by a stepford rep., company line “we must go to war, putin is a war criminal” guy now. we are doomed.

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