Rival factions are undermining Russia’s military
Vladimir Putin is struggling to keep competing interests in check
Factionalism and infighting are currently rife in Russia’s sprawling military network. This was clearly shown in a Telegram post late last week from the leader of Rusich — a prominent neo-Nazi paramilitary formation with ties to the Wagner Group — stating:
As has been noted elsewhere, the sanctioned participation of a neo-Nazi paramilitary formation fighting on behalf of the Russian state somewhat undermines the narrative that Putin is “fighting fascism in Ukraine”. But this statement goes further, explicitly rejecting the President’s stated war aims, with its final sentence inspired by the concept of Lebensraum — or “living space” — a core element of Nazi ideology.
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The announcement also serves as one of many examples of how self-interested actors are writing new narratives around the invasion of Ukraine, and in doing so creating a clouded vision of what the Russian state wishes to achieve. Another prominent example of this factionalism is Yevgeny Prigozhin. The self-described “owner” of the Wagner Group has repeatedly suggested that the Russian Ministry of Defence is incapable of effectively leading the invasion of Ukraine due to its use of outdated tactics and ineffective methods, going so far as to accuse it of engaging in treason.
Although Prigozhin’s motivations likely stem from his desire to accrue more resources for the Wagner Group and gain influence, the effect of his comments has undoubtedly been to make Russia appear disunited. This was a concern shared by the Kremlin, prompting spokesperson Dmitry Peskov to state earlier this year that there is no infighting between the Russian MoD and the Wagner Group. This comment served not just as a sign of its displeasure with Prigozhin, but also as a warning to the Wagner chief.
Russia’s various war propagandists have played a divisive role, too. Certain figures — such as the former FSB officer and commander of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” Igor Strelkov — have argued that the Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defence are conducting the war in an incompetent manner and are looking for a cowardly way out through a settlement to end the invasion. Meanwhile, loyal Kremlin propagandists like Vladimir Solovyov have defended Russian decision-making surrounding the war, making relatively few criticisms. Solovyov has also gone as far as to condemn Strelkov’s comments as anti-patriotic and accuse him of cowardice.
Factionalism and conflicting narratives about the war are motivated to a large degree by self-interest. But they also undermine the official Russian war machine by creating an image of disunity to the Russian public, as well as to enemies abroad. The Kremlin is increasingly struggling to keep control of the narrative.
You could argue that the Russian ‘Special Military Operation’ is just various Russian warlords scrabbling for supremacy – just like in Sudan.
Unlike Sudan the ‘Special Military Operation’ is taking place outside the Mother country and the damage is therefore remote.
I expect the Ukrainians are not much comforted by this insight, or that of the main article.
Why are there 4 comments noted at the top of the comments section and I can only see one?
The Age of the Sledgehammers is fast approaching.
Once this war ends, every Russian silovik and oligarch will be ready to grab some part of the power in Russia. They see that Putin is little more than cipher, with nobody really in charge.
And it won’t be like the genteel 90s, when it was just gangster-on-gangster killings.
Everyone with any power now knows that everyone else like him is out to get him. So they must get the other silovik/oligarch first. Otherwise it’s the end.
If you think Libya and Sudan are bad, you’ve never read about the many Russian civil conflicts, from the Time of Troubles, through Pugachev, the Civil War, to the Great Terror.
Just be prepared to welcome the next wave of Russian emigres.
Are you in amnesia about actual Nazi symbols and insignia used by Ukrainian Neo Nazis like Azov or Right Sector? Or about Stephen Bandera as an icon?
The greatest disciples of Herr Hitler lie with Ukraine which your distorted fact twisting is ignoring.
This could have been a balanced article if you had compared the two sides with greater objectivity.
If the Russian army vacated Ukrainian sovereign territory, neither you nor Putin would have to worry about nazi insignia is someone else’s country
Strange reaction. You feel Nazi symbols are OK then. I feel sorry for those generations who lost loved ones fighting Hitler when I see curious logic in justification as yours.
The problem with your worldview is that it is the Russians that are rampaging around someone else’s country behaving like a pack of n***s.
Get real! It’s the Russians who are the real nazis in this war. And defenders like you will feel shame for decades for defending this vile regime.
If the Russian army vacated Ukrainian sovereign territory, neither you nor Putin would have to worry about n*** insignia being shown in someone else’s country
And what if on these same grounds of ” sovereignty ” Syria, Serbia and Iraq or Libya object to their territorial aggrandizement. Or is Unilateral global policing by Neo Con America and its favourite NATO poodle a given birthright?!
Stop trolling this site.
That’s pretty much correct, given overtly racist states like India.
Have they ever allowed Kashmiris to get back to normal?
Thus speaks the inheritors of Gen Dyer of Jallianwala Bagh about ” racism” of India which they looted over 3 centuries. Use abuse after reading British racism of ” Indians and dogs not allowed” . As for Kashmir a situation created by M16 in 1948..as a natural defender of British imperialism I expect little from you.
“If Britain did it 200 years ago, it’s OK for us to do it now!”
This is an article about the factionalisation in the Russian military complex, not about the number of neo-nazis on each side. He states Rusich is neo-nazi group because, well, it is one.
And is Rusich who say, almost wistfully, that there are barely any Nazis in Ukraine. Not the author of the article.
Rusich is obviously a plant by Victoria Nuland.
…Psst, nobody tell him that the REAL Ukrainian Neo-Nazis never get enough votes (2% or more) to get into the Rada.
If he likes to think that he is in a heroic, death-defying struggle against “the world-wide Neo-Nazi conspiracy” (!!)
Please don’t burst his bubble.
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