June 12, 2023

Shoigu targets Prigozhin, hits Putin clan


Defense minister Sergei Shoigu's directive demanding that all ‘volunteer detachments’ must sign military contracts by the end of the month aimed at taking under control Wagner and other paramilitary formations, not subordinates to him. 

The directive was not agreed with Putin. Which especially important that these paramilitary formations belong to the competing Putin clan and initially were meant to balance Shoigu's extensive military force, directly subordinated and loyal to him. By such a move made under the pretext of aligning all military formations, Shoigu substantially weakened Putin's clan.  

The main target of the Shoigu directive is Wagner, whose owner Prigozhin lately openly criticized Shoigu for ineffectiveness. Lately, there were more so-called private armies created to protect the Putin clan or, de facto, to protect the owners of companies and heads of the regions, as lately, weakened by sanctions and isolation Putin started to cease being a guarantor for their positions, or property rights.

The only way the local leaders and big company owners could protect themselves was by creating their own armies, and the legitimate pretext was the Special military operation in Ukraine. As the center is weakening, the clan war in Russia is about to transform into a war of all against all.

To prevent the feudal wars and reverse the centrifugal movement, Shoigu would need to withdraw the army from Ukraine and redirect it against the separatists inside Russia.

The alternative to disintegration is the introduction of martial law in Russia, which Shoigu fought for lately.
However, Putin will never agree to launch martial law, as this would mean the simultaneous transfer of entire power in the country to Shoigu. In fact, Shoigu's directive should follow the introduction of martial law, but as Putin refused to set it, Shoigu's decree de facto replaced it.

It is interesting that several days ago, Putin called Shoigu to the Kremlin for the report, but the meeting never took place. Shoigu just didn't come. This shows that the tension between Putin and Shoigu achieved such a degree that mutual security guarantees that worked for years no longer work.

The confrontation is moving into an open phase, although Putin is still trying to pretend that he is above the fight between Prigozhin and Shoigu and continues to control the overall situation. At the same time, lately, Putin easily managed to resolve the face-off between Prigozhin and Kadyrov since they belong to the same clan.

However, Putin may not succeed in the role of mediator next time as the centrifugal trends will progress in parallel with the growing economic crisis and Putin's deflating clout. Putin's mediation could become meaningless, especially in the case of Kadyrov and Prigozhin. Both managed to build their own states within the state and are preparing for looming disintegration to fight for what they consider is theirs.

Shoigu, on the other hand, had created his own vertical of power parallel to Putin's. The weaker Putin becomes, the stronger Shoigu is. Shoigu's ambition is to replace Putin and create a military state meant to destroy the West. Lately, weakening Putin to buy more time in power and preserve the visibility of power does exactly what Shoigu wants and, at the same time, plays a cover for Shoigu.

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