X Close

Putin’s ruthless new plan to win The Russian economy has been readied for war

Putin and Shoigu in Moscow last week (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)

Putin and Shoigu in Moscow last week (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)


May 14, 2024   4 mins

Over his 24 years in charge, Vladimir Putin has filled his cabinets with an array of mostly indistinguishable and eminently replaceable politicians. Some have lasted for just a few months in the upper echelons of the Kremlin machine, but the one figure who — until this weekend — seemed set to remain in situ for as long as Putin did was the now former Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu. On Sunday came the shock announcement that Shoigu had been removed from his post as part of Putin’s post-inauguration cabinet reshuffle — but Putin’s choice of replacement, a technocratic economist, might herald the creation of a new, more streamlined war machine designed to engage in all-but permanent war.

Shoigu has long been part of the political furniture in the Russian Federation. He was appointed Minister for Emergency Situations by Boris Yeltsin in 1991 in the dying months of the Soviet era. He remained in that post until 2012, seeing out Yeltsin, Putin and even Dmitry Medvedev’s presidential terms. But as Putin returned to the presidency in 2012 on a platform filled with militaristic ultra-nationalism — one that promised a restoration of national greatness in the face of a purported Western onslaught — Shoigu ascended to his most important post, becoming the Minister of Defence in May that year.

Barely two years later, Russia had invaded the east of Ukraine and Crimea. Shoigu and Putin’s popularity boomed. A very public bromance between president and minister saw the two regularly photographed together playing hockey and engaging in bare-chested fishing sessions.

Since 2012, Shoigu has been the ever-present face of Russia’s wars. Whether briefing Putin at heavily publicised meetings in the Kremlin, attending the state’s lavish Victory Day parades, handing out medals to veterans of the “special military operation”, or visiting the injured in hospital, this doggedly loyal Putinist — always in uniform, and often bedecked with a rash of unearned medals — has seemed to embody the new, militarised Russia.

Yet in the past two years, Shoigu has become the target of much ire over the death toll and slow progress the Russian army has experienced in Ukraine. The former, and now deceased, Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin almost launched all-out war against the state after Shoigu’s Defence Ministry attempted to assert control over his forces in summer 2023. He claimed that Shoigu was the source of the army’s failings, and only wanted to wage war to award himself more military honours. A slew of similar criticisms has bedeviled Shoigu’s ministry for years: its corruption, bureaucracy and incompetence are the subject of constant public criticism. Shoigu is thus perceived as a man with few redeeming features bar his loyalty to Putin.

Into Shoigu’s shoes, however, steps yet another close Putin ally: the long-serving economist Andrey Belousov. Belousov’s public image is far blander than his predecessor’s. White-haired, quiet and always clad in a neat business suit, Belousov is known for his impressive knowledge of — and competence in — economics. Even better, given the struggles that Shoigu’s ministry experienced, Belousov has gained a reputation for incorruptibility throughout his time in government.

Yet it would be a categorical error to interpret Belousov’s appointment as a return to normality or a move toward restoring order after the aggressive, militaristic chaos of the past few years. Belousov is a strong proponent of the post-2012 order, and was one of very few economists in Russia who welcomed the invasion of Crimea in 2014 — even though it brought disastrous sanctions on the country and saw the value of the Russian ruble plummet. He has been a key architect of the transition away from a liberal capitalist order in the Russian economy toward one in which the state — and in particular the state’s military enterprises — looms large.

“It would be a categorical error to interpret Belousov’s appointment as a return to normality.”

Early signs from Belousov’s new ministry suggest that the state is looking for ways not to rein in but to streamline its forces, to find efficiencies, resolve long-standing organisational issues and continue to wage war for years to come. Belousov has been charged with immediately looking into issues around troop survival rates and the provision of proper medical care and civil allowances for soldiers returning from the front.

Whatever the change in leadership at the Ministry of Defence portends, therefore, it will not be a move toward a more peaceful Russia. Nor will it necessarily be a more humane Russian way of warfare in Ukraine. For the time being, Valery Gerasimov — a man accused of encouraging Russian troops’ war crimes in both Chechnya and Ukraine — remains the armed forces’ Chief of General Staff with primary responsibility for operational conduct in the theatre of war. Belousov’s role will presumably not be to issue correctives to men like Gerasimov but to provide them with a more efficient supply line of troops, arms and armour to behave in the way they see fit.

It’s hardly a surprise that Russia’s nationalist factions are cock-a-hoop at the news of Shoigu’s dismissal, which is, to quote one leading blogger, “a logical step”. Even if there is some suspicion that Belousov’s experience working with Americans might make him a soft touch (one popular commentator even jokingly called him a “veteran foreign agent”), the positive responses far outweigh the negative. Extreme nationalists — who have long railed against the logistical failures of Shoigu’s ministry — are revelling in the slew of Western news articles commenting on Belousov’s economic credentials. “They’re terrified,” claimed one user on a popular Telegram channel, “because Russia’s on the right path.” Paired with news of continued Russian progress against a depleted Ukrainian army, the sense of stagnation about the war within the country may be about to disappear.

At last week’s presidential inauguration, Putin spoke of the importance of the “special military operation” to Russia’s history. In a climactic flourish, he declared that “together, we will win!” In the past two years, Russia’s economy has pivoted from being one funded almost entirely by the sale of resources to one that funds itself through the production of material for war. Put simply, Russia now needs war to stave off economic collapse. With Andrey Belousov at the helm of the Ministry of Defence, Putin has made a choice to pursue that economic path with a ruthless efficiency that would have been impossible under the loyal but hapless Sergey Shoigu — and to provide his army with the means they need to win in Ukraine.


Ian Garner is a historian and analyst of Russian culture and war propaganda. His latest book is Z Generation: Russia’s Fascist Youth (Hurst).

irgarner

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

62 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Malcolm Robbins
Malcolm Robbins
4 days ago

And it’s the actions of the west and USA in particular that have brought this about. Afraid of the Russian Bear? Then why did we poke it in such a way it felt the need to act? The west has scored a massive “own goal” on this one. Talk about a self fulfilling prophesy…

Martin M
Martin M
3 days ago

Quite right! We should have let Russia invade who it wants, and to rape, torture and murder when it does so!

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

“We” appears not to include you unless you are writing from the frontline in Ukraine.
“We” as in the UK, have no national interests at stake in the Ukraine, but very much have an interest in our population not being incinerated… when the US Neocons get NATO directly involved, resulting in the Russian use of nuclear weapons, as they have said. Russia is not bluffing.

j watson
j watson
3 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

The survival of democracies, even young democracies still trying to put in place the key components to sustain that, are vital to UK interests. We may allow Nations to do what they want to do within their own Borders, but naked invasion and aggression is something the free World must react against. And if you want to be purely self-interested – Ukraine fighting is preventing NATO having to fight as Putin would not have stopped here if we had shown weakness.
The incineration twaddle you note is exactly that. Putin’s nonsense threats seem to have panicked you as designed. Total bluff. All the corrupt elements in his powerbase and within the Army and security forces don’t fancy being incinerated too and losing the benefits of their corruption. He knows he’d prompt a Palace coup if they thought he was serious.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Yes the West has done well in promoting and protecting democracies…South Korea, South Vietnam, Afghanistan, various South American countries…
And the duly elected President of the Ukraine was overthrown by a CIA coup…so the one thing all these have NOT been about is the promotion and protection of democracies.

And fine, you take the risk that Russia is bluffing…but not for me.

L Brady
L Brady
3 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Hmmm. Are you saying South Korea is not better off compared to North Korea? And stop repeating the pathetic conspiracy that Ukraine was overthrown by the CIA.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 days ago
Reply to  L Brady

I’m saying that South Korea wasn’t a democracy.
And yes the Maidan was most certainly a CIA coup

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
3 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

No, it wasn’t. Stop lying. I guess you claim that the protests that brought down the Berlin Wall, Polands Solidarity trade Union movement and the Chinese student protesters at Tienanmen Square also were CIA operations.

Kat L
Kat L
2 days ago
Reply to  L Brady

Considering that they have almost zero population replacement rate, ultimately they will not be.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 hours ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

South Korea is a democracy……. It certainly wouldn’t have been had it been fallen to the North. Might not a non Communist South Vietnam have been a democracy by now? But it’s in any case of pretty bad faith argument when Russia is certainly not any kind of democracy.

The US isn’t perfect, but in the post war period carried out an absolutely vital mission to prevent international communism dominating even more of the world than it already did. This by the way was the ideology that led to tens of millions of deaths which makes Pinochet’s atrocities look rather small beer in comparison.

Then the comment about a CIA “coup”. who the CIA seem to occupy much the same space as the world economic forum now also does. It is an intelligence service. It gets some things wrong it gets some things right. It generally supports pro-western forces within countries. Quel surprise.

Much of the Right as indeed for much longer the Left seemed to remove any agency from non-american or non-western forces, which is quite ridiculous. There are undoubtedly different tensions and tendencies within Ukraine. It’s rather peculiar that the president that you thought was legitimately elected fled the country, after his goons had shot many peaceful protesters in the Maidan Square.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 days ago
Reply to  j watson

It is not Russia’s use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine which is the worry for “the West”, it is the USA response.
The West is led by clowns who cannot think beyond one move in the chess game…as has been amply demonstrated. They could do anything whatsoever including nuclear escalation.
Soviet military doctrine was always that not only could a nuclear war be fought but it could be won. I very much doubt that has changed.

Peter B
Peter B
3 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Russia has been “not bluffing” very successfully for over 2 years now ! None of their scare stories has happened. None of their wunderwaffen has had any real impact.
What is is with these dictators and their “wonder weapons” ? Note that real military powers don’t brag in public about their latest and greatest stuff.

D Walsh
D Walsh
3 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

The Russians are winning

It’s the Western wonder weapons that have failed

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 days ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Quite! But the MIC certainly has done well…

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
3 days ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The ‘special military operation’ was meant to last a few days remember. Western weapons and training, plus Ukrainian blood and courage, are what prevented that to such an enormous extent that two years later we are still debating the final outcome.

If the Russians do eventually manage to win something, it will be lot less than intended and a much higher price than expected.

Martin M
Martin M
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

When I say “we”, I mean “the West”. I am in fact in Australia. Oh, and as to Russia “not bluffing”, let’s see. If they use nukes, we use them too. I was born at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and worrying about Russian nukes has been part of my life from day one. If now is the time for it, so be it.

Last edited 1 day ago by Martin M
John Riordan
John Riordan
3 days ago

“Then why did we poke it in such a way it felt the need to act?”

The fact that western policymakers made serious strategic errors in allowing the EU to dangle NATO membership in front of former eastern bloc nations does not obviate the requirement to oppose Russia’s actual physical invasion of Ukraine. The West has made mistakes, yes, but in no sense does that permit you to draw some sort of equivalence here.

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
3 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Anti-western commentators here seem to think the USA is the only country with agency in the world. It’s absurd and overly simplifies every conflict to fit their narrative.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 days ago
Reply to  Wyatt W

You assume that those who disagree with current Western policies are “anti Western”. They are not. They just disagree with current policies.

And with regard to agency, which countries have you in mind? The USA Neocons seem to be entirely in charge with the USA poodles doing what they’re told.

Martin M
Martin M
1 day ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Two points:
1) It is not the EU which decides who gets to join NATO.
2) Any number of “former Eastern Bloc nations” are already members of NATO.

L Brady
L Brady
3 days ago

Bear? Russias’s military has been exposed as a laughing stock. More like a teddy bear.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 days ago

I see that you’re getting roasted for the “West is to blame” angle and then slapped with a version of “what’s done is done and supporting Ukraine is what counts”.
I can agree with both to a point but aside from Mearsheimer’s criticism of western NATO expansion as an instigating factor for Putin’s invasion the bigger question IMO is why the West seems to not have prepared for the possibility. Cheerleading aside, the West seems to have miscalculated Putin’s intentions, Russia’s ability to carry on extended military action and Russia’s ability to sidestep economic sanctions.
Now we’re happy to supply Ukraine barely enough artillery shells to keep going with Verdun v2.0. We won’t supply troops and we are leery of supplying any long range weapons for fear of escalation. Nobody thought of this problem until now? Aside from the MIC cashing in and investment sharks waiting to scoop up re-building billions after the shooting stops who’s winning here? I’ve read suggestions that this is by design. Letting Putin punch himself silly in Ukraine (sorry Ukraine – couldn’t be helped I’m afraid) will yield geo-political windfalls for the West. Really? That’s looking like a bit of a fantasy just now. Maybe this is all just part of the 21st century Great Game – too complicated for mere proles – but I’m leaning towards good old-fashioned incompetence.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
3 days ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Thank you for this.

Martin M
Martin M
1 day ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

It is incumbent on those nations comprising “the West” to do anything they can to damage Russia, and keep it down, in the short, medium, and long term.

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 days ago

 The framing of this as Putin trying a ‘new’ ruthless approach is rather bizarre. This attritional strategy isn’t ‘new’ to the Russians at all. It’s what there doctrines dictate, it’s what they’ve been planning for, it’s what their equipment is designed for and it’s what they’ll use to continue to steam-roller the Ukrainians.

I’ll note that Garner didn’t deign to mention where Shoigu has been moved to – not only is he now the Chairman of the Russian Security Council, but he also has critical executive roles in agencies dealing with the interaction of the Russian military, industrial and science bases. Hardly indicative of a demotion or disgrace.

I posted the below to another Unherd piece today before I read this one, but I’ll copy it here as it’s equally relevant given Garner’s claims of incompetence. The other piece included this quote, my comment follows:

“Shoigu and Gerasimov won their reputations for incompetence as much through their own battlefield failures in Ukraine as they did thanks to Prigozhin’s expletive-laden tirades.”

That ‘reputation for incompetence’ is very much a construct of Western propaganda and wishful thinking. Of course they’ve made mistakes – but no one really knew how this kind of near-peer conflict would work in these days of drones, fiendish mines, layered air-defence and forensic ISR.

Of course all the usual Establishment talking head ex-General gravy-trainers were happy to promote this as incompetence and/or due to the rigid Soviet styles, but usually with very little evidence to support their self-serving assertions. There was usually some blather about NCOs and initiative, never so much about the massively detailed surveillance info the Ukrainians were benefitting from throughout.

The Russians have done about as well as any modern army could in these circumstances – they’re not incompetent, they’re learning and adapting. They also have the luxury of a not-completely-financialised-and-outsourced industrial base to rely upon now. If you want to see incompetence check out those who decided to move the West’s to China.

If you want to describe the RF performance as incompetent then how would you describe the West’s performance against the might of the Yeminis in Operation Prosperity Guardian?

Otherwise what has Garner got? The rantings of Prigozhin and the comments of a few (as usually unnamed) Russian military bloggers. It’s very thin gruel.  

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

You make a lot of sense.. the notion that Putins SMO was a full-scale invasion is garbage.. who would invade a country with 300,000 troops against a NATO armed and trained army of 450,000? Putin miscalculated on one issue though.. he thought German, French and US leaders were to be trusted.. he even trusted Zelenski fgs.. so call him naive by all means. But to be fair, world leaders used to be trustworthy at one time; their word counted for something.. Perhaps he should have known they are just a bunch of cheap liars, reneged and treats busters. He knows better now..

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
3 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Trusted them for what? Do you live in some alternative reality where the western leaders promised Putin not to react if he invaded, and then betrayed him by reacting?

A D Kent
A D Kent
2 days ago

You need to look-up what both Francios Hollande and Angela Merkel said about their involvement in the Minsk process. Both have now stated that it was just a holding process to allow Ukraine to arm itself for an eventual retaking of the Donbas/Crimea. Petro Poroshenko the Ukrainian president at the time confirms this view. Sounds a lot like a betrayal to me.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

But the Minsk agreements was a response to Russia already having invaded Ukraine. Both the Donbas and Crimea was part of the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine that Russia recognized in writing in the Budapest memorandum of 1994.

Martin M
Martin M
1 day ago
Reply to  A D Kent

“….they’re not incompetent, they’re learning and adapting“.
They’ve probably learned that when invading another country, taking food and fuel for the long haul is a good idea.

Basil Schmitt
Basil Schmitt
4 days ago

The assertion that “without war, the Russian economy would collapse” is a pretty bizarre statement loaded with that schizophrenic perception of Russia typical in Western circles.

Most countries on Earth have mobilised and radically altered their economy for total war. After the end of the conflict, the factories are retooled, the soldiers return, the economy passes through a brief transition phase, and you have a civilian economy once more. Russia is hardly an outlier in any sense here. Most likely, their economy will have a small boom after the end of the war.

The coming Russian victory over Ukraine will result in the spheres of influence in Eastern Europe to be more clearly delineated. There will be less reason for conflict when the ship of a Western-aligned Ukraine in striking distance to Moscow has sunk like the Moskva.

After a few embarrassing years, Europe will be buying gas from Russia through Kiev Oblast, and the USA will pivot from Europe towards China. It’ll be hard to justify, for example, maintaining sanctions when Washington wants Russian neutrality in a prospective Taiwan conflict. Russia and China have many reasons to be in conflict with each other, and they have been, in the past.

Russia will be fine. Will we?

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
3 days ago

“Russia’s economy has pivoted from being one funded almost entirely by the sale of resources to one that funds itself through the production of material for war. Put simply, Russia now needs war to stave off economic collapse. ”

Could someone explain this to a non economist. I have difficulty understanding the logic. Thanks in advance.

Liam F
Liam F
2 days ago

Yeah, I’d didn’t get that logic either.

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 days ago

I am more disturbed at the news that the Ukraine invasion has made Putin ever more popular with Russians instead of less so. I don’t think it matters much who’s in charge of the Russian armed forces, the invasion remains a strategic disaster for Russia no matter what happens.

The danger is that the outcome of this war pushes Russia into a permanent alliance with China, which raises the prospect of a strategic bloc with massively more economic potential than the USSR ever had and which together possess the world’s largest military and nuclear arsenal.

The West collectively needs to wake up and realise that obsessing over climate change, trade regulation and luxury politics is simply a fast track to global subordination and poverty.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The problem is that the Russia-China axis has already gelled…precisely what previous wiser geo-strategists sort to prevent.

China will not allow Russia to be defeated but will probably not allow Russia to use tactical nuclear weapons. However it may not be in a position to prevent it if Russia starts to lose…which it probably won’t.

In any event the West is going down the road of trivia to total irrelevance…unless it gets some serious leaders with common sense (which seems unlikely).

El Uro
El Uro
3 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Sorry, I didn’t read your comment before leaving mine.

El Uro
El Uro
3 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The West collectively needs to wake up and realise that obsessing over climate change, trade regulation and luxury politics is simply a fast track to global subordination and poverty.
.
Did you see the latest Eurovision Song Contest? It seems to me that the West is no longer capable of anything. This road only leads down

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Any smart country will join BRICS+ ASAP! The US Empire is over.. just waiting for the fat lady to sing.. it’ll probably be Victoria Nuland..

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

In which case it will be a dirge…at the West’s funeral…

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
3 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

As to your first paragraph, as much as I admit it’s not great to stereotype nations and their cultures and people but, this is Russia. Being somewhat familiar with Russian history myself I am not terribly surprised they embraced Putin for this, even in this modern age. Believing we’re different than the ‘barbaric’ peoples of the past who reveled in war and conquest is a conceit unique to the west. Russia is simply being the same Russia they’ve pretty much always been whether under the tsars or the commissars, and the shocked gasping is from a western public that is, as you say, far too ensconced in luxury politics and obsessed with their luxury beliefs.
As to the second paragraph, that ship may have already sailed. Guess who the largest buyer of Russian oil/coal/gas is and who buys about as much in total as Russia’s next two largest customers (India/Turkey) combined? Yeah… when you say they have a combined economic potential far greater than the USSR had, that’s an understatement. The two together could almost assuredly outproduce the US and Europe in almost everything from oil to clothing to guns to warships. We should praying that Xi and Putin are egotistical enough to think they can take on the US alone and never realize their combined potential.
They don’t seem to be in a formal and public military alliance, and China has distanced itself from the Ukraine conflict, but who can say how much of that is real and how much is just strategic calculation. We’re talking about autocratic states whose policy can change whenever the leader changes his mind. Who knows how deep the personal understanding between Putin and Xi actually goes? Probably nobody but the two of them. Putin doesn’t need China’s full military support or weapons to fight Ukraine or the west. Chinese weapons are not significantly more advanced than Russian ones and they’re actually quite similar given that most Chinese military hardware is based on Russian models from the end of the Cold War and since. Putin just needs China to buy their resources, which they are. China publicly supporting Putin’s invasion in Ukraine would serve no real strategic purpose but could be detrimental to China’s economy in the short to medium term. This could be part of their collective strategy that was agreed upon during the several prominent summits they held about the same time that the Ukraine conflict was starting. When dealing with autocrats, there’s no way to be sure unless one can read minds.
I think the things you mentioned in paragraph three will be resolved on their own, but not in a good way. I’m of the opinion that we should be thinking in terms of when, not if, China makes a play for Taiwan, which will, at minimum, spark the biggest economic crisis we’ve faced since the Great Depression, and at maximum, could put us in a third world war and praying our leaders and theirs are wise enough to keep it non-nuclear. In other words, slow growing and long term problems tend to be set aside fairly quickly in the face of immediate crises.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Check under the bed for Reds! You are delusional.. too many war games on your X box I’m afraid.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Do you actually have anything substantial to say or do you just enjoy posting snide comebacks on the Internet? What precisely are you aiming to accomplish, or is this simply your idea of fun? Does this make you look ‘cool’ in front of your friends who all agree with you. Is this part of some tribal psychology whereby you affirm your identification with your tribe by belittling others? Are you that desperate for attention? Are you just bored? I don’t really care that you disagree with me. Many do and I try to be open to different perspectives, but you’re not making an argument, you’re just making noise.

I am genuinely curious what your motivation might be. My personal theory is that this is how natural human tribalism manifests in people who have no strong ties to any existing culture and who generally regard traditional culture as backward, barbaric, racist, or whatever else.

Whatever the case may be, you should realize that by disagreeing in the most childish and unsophisticated manner possible, you’re making my argument seem better and undermining your own points, so I suppose I should thank you for your helpful contribution.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
3 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Obviously you haven’t heard of BRICS+ yet.. The US Empire is over; wake up and smell the coffee!

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
3 days ago

Putin will keep this up for as long as he wants as long as he can afford it. How do Ukraine and its supporters make this enterprise undesirable and unaffordable? And how long will it take? It took the Afghans 10 years to run the Soviet Army out of their country.

L Brady
L Brady
3 days ago
Reply to  Jim McDonnell

Afghanistan resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Let’s hope history repeats itself and defeat in Ukraine leads to the breakup of Russia. I’d love to see that conceited war criminal Putin get his comeuppance.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
3 days ago

Perhaps it will be more effective than his ruthless old plan to win.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
3 days ago

Looks like an “all or nothing” gamble to me. If he succeeds in taking Ukraine, the article suggests his economy needs war to function; so where next?

Aidan Twomey
Aidan Twomey
3 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Same place as the musician who needs heroin to function. It works for a while, at least.

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Who says these RF personnel changes aren’t designed to address those issues too? Shoigu is now involved in agencies specifically responsible for the cooperation of the military, science & industry. Why do you assume the benefits of such cooperation will only favour one of these? The continued underestimation of the Russians across the West baffles me.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
3 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I referenced the article. I’m not assuming anything. You clearly disagree, but from a stance which is known to those of us who take note in Comments, of being broadly in support of Russia, or at least anti-West.

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I’m actually I consider myself pro-Ukraine. I’d would much rather not see the country destroyed because certain aspects of the West want to use it as a proxy.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
3 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

“…want to use it as a proxy.” I say absolutely are using it as a proxy and I’m certain the Ukrainians are well aware of this. But what choice do they have? It’s either that or lose horribly. US aid is carefully calibrated to keep Ukraine on life support while the Russians, stupidly, incomprehensibly, gut themselves against cold war hand-me-downs, Iraq war surplus and second-hand black market shit boxes on wheels.

Everyone knows the game, except the Russians apparently. All this new appointment does is to confirm Putin’s stupidity. He’s publicly signaling that a war economy is the new normal and has hired a war economist to run it for him. He’s going to drag a once great culture into the wood chipper for no obvious geopolitical gain. What an enormous t**t.

Martin M
Martin M
1 day ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

Which once great culture is he dragging into the wood chipper?

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
3 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Estonia?

Martin M
Martin M
1 day ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

That would be annoying. I’m going there in November.

Alexander van de Staan
Alexander van de Staan
1 day ago

“Ruthless new plan” or a self-fulfilling prophecy by the West thanks to NATO’s anachronistic Cold War expansionism post 1991?

Last edited 1 day ago by Alexander van de Staan
j watson
j watson
3 days ago

A loyalist Economist gets put in charge of Defence – couldn’t be a clearer sign Putin has serious monetary, logistical and leadership problems.
Corruption is rife. Their forces have lost huge tiers of leadership at NCO level and cannot act with initiative. They rely on masses of poorly trained conscripts. They are frightened about the impact of further forced mobilisation. They rely on non-Russian ethnic groups (the demographics for Russians show a population decline). Their economy is gradually decaying and only propped up by Oil sales and deficit spending on armaments.
Putin remains in deep trouble, desperate for a peace settlement that gives him an off-ramp and paranoid about a potential Palace coup if he gives up some of the land he has taken. Only Agent Orange can help him now, and even he told House Speaker to sign off on the Military aid. Every time Putin sabre rattles about use of tactical Nuclear weapons it shows his level of panic – quite apart from the worldwide reaction that would generate they will not use them because their own forces are not trained to then function in that environment and thus there is no tactical gain.

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Thanks for the brief summary of the West’s propaganda narrative on the state of the Russian economy and state. All of the above are highly contentious to say the very least.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
3 days ago

Putin’s ‘ruthless’ plan seems more like he’s running out of place men.
Why would you put an economist in charge of a complex supply chain coordinating military industrial supplies to the Army rather than a seriously experienced Supplies-Chain Manager?

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 days ago

Who says he isn’t that? His previous positions have placed him in deparments specifically focused on the interplay between the (real) economy, science and the military. That he’s ‘an aconomist’ does very little to describe his experience.

L Brady
L Brady
3 days ago

Putin is basically running out of people to sack or kill for the disaster that is Ukraine.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 day ago

All true but are regional Russians going to tolerate zero state help with numerous flooding events?