As his legacy and his myth of invincibility go up in smoke like a Russian tank hit by a Ukrainian Javelin, Vladimir Putin is starting to panic. The cornered autocrat is more and more isolated. His snap decision to actually go ahead with an all-out invasion of Ukraine was a shocking surprise for many in the Kremlin leadership.
“Rustamova wrote that every source she talked to believed Putin wouldn't follow through on invading Ukraine and was instead looking to gain leverage for concessions, such as declaring Donetsk and Luhansk "people's republics."
"I came to this conclusion after speaking with several members of parliament and officials at various levels. Many of them are discouraged, frightened, and are making apocalyptic forecasts."
- Business Insider
Putin has begun a purge in the sections of government that he blames for his failure in Ukraine and that is most likely to pose a threat to his rule. The security services and the military. The first head to roll was Sergey Beseda, head of the FSB foreign service, who was placed under arrest on Putin's orders. Anatoly Bolyukh, Beseda's deputy, was also arrested. The reasons given for the arrests are embezzlement of funds that were meant for FSB actions in Ukraine, and deliberately providing false information about the political situation in Ukraine. Since the entire Russian kleptocracy is guilty of embezzlement, with the #1 embezzler being Putin himself this is an easy to prove criminal offense that could be trotted out for any Russian government official who is suspected of even thinking about getting on the wrong side of Putin or of failing to execute his orders successfully.
In addition to the leadership of the FSB, it's being reported that 8 army generals have been purged.
“Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov stated on March 9 that the Kremlin has replaced eight generals due to their failures in Ukraine, though ISW cannot independently verify this information.”
“Putin is likely carrying out an internal purge of general officers and intelligence personnel. He may be doing so either to save face after failing to consider their assessments in his own pre-invasion decision-making or in retaliation for faulty intelligence he may believe they provided him.”
- Institute for the Study of War, RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MARCH 11
In addition to the internal purges, Putin is ratcheting up suppression of the public to Stalin era levels as illustrated by this video. The first woman is arrested for holding up a sign that literally says "two words". No anti-war message, just the phrase: “two words”. Then they arrest a Putin supporter while she is praising Putin to the press. You get arrested for anything or nothing. No opinion is allowed. Just terrorize everyone, so no one dares to even think or to say anything in public.
As a result of the terror Putin is unleashing in Russia, an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Russians have fled Russia since the invasion began. A catastrophic brain drain of some of Russia’s best and brightest fearful of being trapped behind a new iron curtain. They have been streaming across the borders to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey.
Putin is exhibiting the bunker mentality of someone who is increasingly isolated and fearful of his future, fearful of those around him, and fearful of the Russian people. It looks like Vlad is going to need a longer table.
Putin has now threatened the Oligarchs, calling them traitors. How long before the arrest warrants are issued and the expropriation of Oligarch's Russian assets begins?
The Russian President, speaking in a bombastic televised address from the Kremlin nearly three weeks into Moscow's invasion, warned the West would use 'those who earn their money here, but live over there' as a 'fifth column' to 'divide our society'.
'I do not judge those with villas in Miami or the French Riviera. Or who can't get by without oysters or foie gras or so-called 'gender freedoms.' The problem is they mentally exist there, and not here, with our people, with Russia,' he said. 'The West will try to bet on the so-called fifth column, on traitors... to divide our society.. to provoke civil confrontation... to strive to achieve its aim. And there is one aim - the destruction of Russia. — Daily Mail