Sunday, March 13, 2022

Scapegoating Begins in Russia

Multiple western media outlets are confirming rumors that Sergey Beseda, the head of the FSB's foreign intelligence branch – Moscow's top spy – and his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh have been placed under house arrest. The official charge is corruption, of which they are surely guilty, but everyone assumes they are being made the fall guys for the failure of the invasion of Ukraine to go as planned. If they endorsed intelligence estimates that said Ukrainians would not resist and Kyiv could be taken in three days, they certainly deserve to lose their jobs. In their defense, they were probably telling Putin what he wanted to hear, but here we see the dangerous limits of yes-manning.

Strikes me as important that the army is not being blamed, at least not yet.


Shadow said...

That's the guy Putin humiliated at a public meeting. He seemed to hesitate (make excuses?) about invading Ukraine, and Putin humiliated for his lack of conviction. Maybe he hesitated because he was feeding Putin bullshit about Ukraine, and now the chickens were coming home to roost.

G. Verloren said...

The army absolutely should be blamed, since the corruption extends all the way down to the bottom ranks of authority.

None of this should be surprising. This isn't unique to the modern Russian Federation; it wasn't unique to the Soviet Union; the Tsars themselves used to deal with these kinds of problems. Russia has a very long tradition of military graft.

In the Imperial period, you saw commanders taking funds meant for treating the sick and wounded and simply... not treating their soldiers. When such soldiers then died, their deaths were simply not reported until the next war broke out - at which point, they were entered among the casualty lists of the early battles. You can actually see this effect in action, as on paper the army would routinely see "huge losses" at the start of every campaign, as long dead soldiers were finally "killed in battle".

In the modern day, you see local brigade commanders using extra conscripts to pad the numbers of quota-mandated "kontraktniks" they are supposed to maintain, and simply pocketing the difference (minus a kickback to their own commanding officers). Where a brigade might be meant to have 1000 contract soldiers supplemented by 500 conscripts, you instead get situations like 500 contract soldiers supplemented by 1000 conscripts - so when the order is given to mobilize only the kontraktniks and leave the conscripts behind, that becomes impossible without revealing the corruption. And it doesn't help that the Kremlin told commanders they were merely sending men out on maneuvers, and not actually into full blown war.

It's the same problem with everything. Local officers receive funds for tank and vehicle maintenance, but they instead defer maintenance and pocket the difference. They receive funds to feed their troops properly, but they instead give them substandard fare and old expired rations and pocket the difference. They receive funds for new uniforms and instead issue old surplus ones kept in storage. Et cetera, et cetera. There are a thousand different ways to skim off the top, and a simple kickback to your immediate superior keeps the matter quiet, all the way to the top.

szopen said...

searching for sacrificial sheeps or a coup prevention? That's the question.

szopen said...

You might all find this twitter thread interesting: a guy arguing why basically nothing short of total victory will be safe for Putin regime: