Geopolitics

Russian Oligarchs and Putin’s Future

by Peter Zeihan on May 11, 2022

How do we get to a world without Russian President Vladimir Putin?

The reality is that there’s no easy path to get there, despite what some US Senators or leaders within the European Union might want. There has been a near constant stream of chatter from elected officials, talking heads, and regular citizens asking why (or, in some cases, pleading) Russia’s cabal of oligarchs don’t simply… eliminate Putin from the equation.

I’ll save you from the messier details of how some plans would go, but history is rife with examples of palace coups that remove this or that blundering leader. Russia is not likely to be one of those places.

For one, Russia’s oligarchs derive their legitimacy and ability to operate (read: plunder) directly from Putin. Oligarchs may have their own relatively small patronage systems, but they don’t have the support of the Russian people. Which brings us to a more important point: the Russian military, intelligence services, and Russian people are still largely supportive of Putin.

While this may change, this is something we can’t gloss over. There is still considerable institutional support around Putin. And while less critical, there is the very important fact that the current stock of oligarchs range from inept, to incredibly corrupt, to cowardly, to reviled. And these are their good points.

Whatever Putin is, he’s not stupid. And none of the individuals he handpicked to develop (read: plunder) the Russian state’s industries and resources was someone who could one day mount a reasonable challenge to his authority.

Categories: Geopolitics

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