The Kremlin understands the threat posed by the development of private military formations, which are currently needed to carry out combat missions in Ukraine. However, in order to prevent them from being used for a possible coup, Vladimir Putin is trying to balance between different groups of influence.
Constant changes in the command of the occupying forces are connected with the fact that it is increasingly difficult for Putin to maintain a shaky peace between various factions in the military and political elite of the Russian Federation. In particular, that’s why a person who outwardly resembles the Russian dictator recently visited the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson and Luhansk regions. Meetings held at the same time with Colonel-General Teplinsky, who is associated with Surovikin and Prigozhin, and Lapin, who is oriented towards the Shoigu-Gerasimov clan, testify to this.
When Putin next makes changes in the command of the occupying forces, it has nothing in common with evaluation of the professional qualities of certain generals. Indeed, constant turbulence and uncertainty in the highest military hierarchy of the occupiers leads to more and more degradation of management and discord between units that are under different orders. However, this approach has undeniable advantages for the Russian dictator.
First of all, none of the power clans can consolidate and strengthen enough to challenge Putin himself. Secondly, a certain balance is maintained between them, which – by design – keeps the warring clans from having their under-the-carpet feud turn into an open armed phase. And, thirdly, the regular change of commanders is an excellent safeguard against the appearance of a “new Zhukov” – a military leader popular in the troops, against the background of which the bunker dictator will look cowardly and worthless not only to the free world, but also to the population of the Russian Federation. Any of these arguments is much more important to Putin than the professionalism of the generals and the fighting ability of the occupying forces.
However, one cannot forever avoid what is already doomed to happen. The Russian elites perfectly understand that the defeat in the war with Ukraine is already irreversible.
Anticipating an era of instability, almost all Russian clans have already begun to form private armies – their own armed formations, loyal above all to those who finance them, and not to Putin or the abstract Russian state.
Thus, among such power groups, one can note Prigozhin’s Wagner PPC, the Rosguard, Kadyrov’s army, Shoigu’s Patriot PPC, the Gazprom corporation Potok PPC, the Donbas Union of Volunteers of the oligarch Malofeev, various “volunteer battalions” created by governors in regions… This list is long, but not yet complete.
In the context of this preparation of power resources, the planned transfer of “Civil Defense” units from Prime Minister Mishustin to Minister of Internal Affairs Kurenkov should also be considered, as National Resistance Center learned about from its own sources.
It is impossible not to notice the work of Ramzan Kadyrov, who is increasingly increasing the potential of his formations, as well as expanding his influence on TOT. However, now, Kadyrov does it not very publicly, which is not characteristic of him. In this way, he is waiting to see how the conflict between Shoigu and Prigozhin will end.
So, when Ukraine inflicts a final defeat on the occupiers, the shaky status quo in Russia will be destroyed, and there will be prerequisites for another palace coup in the Kremlin. As a result, a new infighting may begin, reminiscent of the times of Time of Troubles in Muscovy and the civil war in the Russian Empire.