All Russian history goes in a circle: dictator – infighting – dictator. Therefore, when Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, expecting a quick victory, the Russian elites realized that these calculations were based on illusions and began to prepare for infighting.
No matter how much more cannon fodder Putin pushes into Ukraine, it will not allow him to keep the captured territories – therefore, “Akela has already missed”, and sooner or later the competition between the financial and bureaucratic clans in the Russian Federation will turn into an open war of all against everyone
And it is necessary to prepare for such an infighting, which in terms of its scale can surpass the civil war in the Russian Empire and the troubled times of Moscow.
List of neo-feudals
Prigozhyn PMC “Wagner” was the first to demonstrate an example of how it is possible to create a private army that is not part of the official structures, but at the same time has not only heavy equipment and artillery, but even aviation.
It is worth noting that “Wagner” is not even registered as a private company, instead it is a conglomerate of offshore enterprises and unregistered units, essentially connected only by informal ties. That is, in fact, it is an ordinary terrorist organization.
However, there is nothing surprising here, because in the Russian Federation informal “concepts” and corrupt relations mean much more than official legislation. And the subordination of “Wagner” to the Russian special services is also based precisely on informal, “conceptual” connections, and not on legislation.
At most, there is no such thing as “hiring” in the Russian legislative field at all, and the “Wagner” fighters can be prosecuted at any time according to the criminal code of the Russian Federation. This does not happen as long as the activities of “Wagner” correspond to the interests of the ruling elite.
But the feudal nature of such ties also determines their instability. And it is not so difficult to imagine a situation in which Putin or his successor gives the order to arrest or eliminate the Wagnerites, and they respond to this with an armed rebellion.
Another private army can be considered armed formations under the control of Chechnya Gauleiter Ramzan Kadyrov. We are talking here not only about the relevant units of the Russian Guard, but also about the Chechen Interior Ministry and various paramilitary formations. Kadyrov can call himself Putin’s foot soldier as much as he wants, but his fighters do not even hide the fact that they are loyal not to the Russian Federation, but to Kadyrov personally. This is another vivid example of frankly feudal relations in the Russian Federation, and another force that is ready for armed struggle when Kadyrov and his clan make the appropriate decision.
The example of these two “parallel armies” forced even the Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, to create his own organized crime group under the name “Patriot Communist Party”. Evidently, Shoigu and his corrupt henchmen are guided by a simple but rational argument – the chair of the Minister of Defense can be lost if the Kremlin so desires, but control over one’s own PMK is informal, criminalized, and therefore much stronger in Russian realities, where criminal concepts define much more than the letter of the law.
This list is far from exhaustive. The Russian energy monopolist Gazprom is also creating its gang under the guise of a “private security organization” that will protect energy enterprises and communications.
The recent congress of the “Union of Donbas Volunteers”, which, as stated, unites more than 16,000 fighters with experience of the war in eastern Ukraine, is also indicative. This “veteran organization” announced the creation of its own unit called the “single Russian volunteer corps”. As the Center of National Resistance suggests, this unit may become another OPG like “Wagner”, which will be under the control of the “Orthodox oligarch” Konstantin Malofeev.
We should also not forget about the less media-focused, but nevertheless real “territorial defenses” that are being formed in Russian regions. These units, like all other private armies, declare their loyalty to the Kremlin – but in reality they obey only those who create and finance them, that is, the regional elites.
The development of private armies indicates the degradation of state administration, the erosion of the state’s monopoly on violence, and the subsequent disintegration of the Russian Federation. In addition, these processes are doomed to divert resources from the war that Russia is waging in Ukraine – after all, why send trained fighters and combat equipment to a war where they will be destroyed, when you can keep them at home – for a future civil war that will resemble a civil war in the Russian Empire and troubled times in the Moscow kingdom.