A long fightSeptember 29, 2014
Continuing to set a bad precedent by becoming somewhat more interactive with readers than was ever intended – read, agree or disagree, and then the reader move on and read something else was only ever the intention – following this paragraph in yesterday’s entry, questions were emailed to the blog regarding the manner in which the current Kremlin regime will fall.
“The issue for The Kremlin is internal of Russia and what happens within, if Ukraine manages to become what it fears the most – A well run, democratic nation. If it becomes that, then it spells the end of The Kremlin regime – regardless of whether Putin sits atop of it or not. The current Kremlin authoritarian and kleptocratic model then dies when Russians demand what Ukrainians would have accomplished.”
So, before gazing into a crystal ball, a caveat that this blog is centered upon Ukraine and the political shenanigans within. The years spent in Moscow are now almost a decade ago and connections and associations to those within that circle have diminished and dulled somewhat.
But to answer the questions as well as possible in the current and foreseeable circumstances – and dismissing a JFK, Franz Ferdinand or Stauffenberg scenario that could well provide for horrendous and unexpected outcomes.
Firstly, a fall of the current Kremlin regime via a Maidan-esque scenario can be almost ruled out entirely – no matter how bad the economics get. The “Russia without Putin” rallies of 2011 will perhaps reoccur, but will not be successful. The reason simply being that the perceived fall from grace of the Russian secret services and military in the 1990’s has been offset by their now “victorious” return following Crimea and events in eastern Ukraine. The loyalty from these organisations to the current Kremlin leadership is therefore reinvigorated. A swapping of sides to any protesters stretches credulity beyond limits. Thus any Maidan-esque events would be put down swiftly and probably quite brutally.
Secondly there is a perceived fear of a return to the lawlessness of the 1990’s should the Kremlin be toppled by mass protest. That perception may be false, but it is a perception that has some resonance nonetheless. Also any rerun of the 1993 Russian White House incident can be ruled out due to the fact there is no meaningful political opposition – let alone political opposition with any traction within the Russian constituency.
Thirdly so pervasive is corruption within all layers of Russian society that everybody has skeletons in their cupboard. The higher up the ladder, the more – or larger – the skeletons. Russia is a nation that operates a rule by law system – not a rule of law system. Ergo, the law and who is subjected to it is necessarily ad hoc affair. Toe the Kremlin line and generally you will be OK. Fail to do so and by subjected to rule by law. The caveat to that for those near or at the upper echelons, is that now and again, a sacrificial lamb need be slaughtered at the alter of power to send a message to society, business leaders, politicians and perhaps the wider region of just who is in control and it is by their grace that any corrupt self-enriching deeds are allowed to occur. Whilst sanctions may lead to a dog eat dog scenario regarding internal options within the Russian market, the pivot toward China opens other doors to corrupt opportunities too.
The culmination of these factors (and others) within society, business, politics, State institutions and media, rules out the end of the regime via an ousting at the hands of the public – no matter how bad things get due to sanctions imposed economic outcomes.
As stated above, a military coup is simply not going to happen now that Russia is deliberately turning itself into a military industrial complex. The military and security services are currently doing very well for themselves.
In truth there seems to be only two possible scenarios that would see President Putin leave office – and that is not necessarily the same thing as seeing the regime change – or meaningful change.
The first, and perhaps mostly likely is ill-health. An incapacitated arbiter-in-chief for any length of time – or of such seriousness that Mr Putin feels he wants to resign – is the most likely scenario. That it may be a decade or more away is a matter for nature to decide. A weak an incapacitated President over a long term would surely suffer a metaphorical Julius Caesar moment, regardless of any will to remain in office.
The second and last option would appear to be a far more difficult matter to engineer – a fate similar to that of Nikita Khrushchev – whereby every power agency agreed unanimously it is time for Mr Putin to gracefully retire, thanked him for his services to the Russian Federation and stated – “Sign here” on a pre-written letter of resignation. The difficulty being that it would require an entirely united front amongst such power institutions. Any missing power agency remaining loyal would be used to behead all the others in any such bureaucratic coup attempt.
And if either scenario were to occur? Firstly any successor will be a current member of the existing system – thus the system will continue as would the rewards for those within. At best, perhaps, a slightly less head-butting stance with the west, depending upon how well the China/Asian pivot goes, to recover some benefits for the regime leadership by the lessening of sanctions.
Thus, as has been written here before numerous times, unless Ukraine willingly subjugates itself, it is going to remain a front line State for at least a decade, if not more, continually at war with The Kremlin in whatever form – or the multiple forms – The Kremlin decides to use in battle. It is for this reason a western “Ukraine first” policy is required to repel Kremlin designs. As with any serious crime, victim support is the priority – catching and punishing the offender should always come a close but distinct second.