Moscow analyst: the search for Putin’s successor is on

In the Time of Troubles by Sergey Ivanov.

In the Time of Troubles by Sergey Ivanov. 

2015/02/05 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Even though many of those around Vladimir Putin fear that his ouster would lead to a new Time of Troubles, some of them have become convinced that the situation now is already so dire that he must be replaced and are “quietly searching” for a possible successor, according to Moscow analyst Andrey Okara.

In an interview with Ukraine’s “Gazeta,” Okara, director of the Moscow Center for East European Research, says that the Russian elite is deeply split with some believing everything the Kremlin propagandists say and others certain that the reverse is true and even leaving the country.

Relatively few of the latter are speaking out in the Russian capital, the Moscow analyst adds, but they are speaking with their feet, leaving if they can and even transforming Kyiv into “a center of the Russian emigration.” But the most interesting developments are taking place among those who are not speaking out and who appear to be in Putin’s good graces.

Among Russia’s oligarchs, Okara says, dissatisfaction with Putin is growing. Their business is suffering and “they talk about this openly but are not able to influence Putin. Otherwise they risk suffering the fate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky who was in prison for ten years. In Russia, you are either with the president” or else.

Nonetheless, he continues, “in Putin’s entourage,” there are people who today “are quietly searching” for a successor, with the names of Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin being the most often mentioned. “But for the time being there are no alternatives to Putin” in fact.

Public support for Putin has not fallen, Okara says, but Russians are no longer laughing about sanctions. They are patient because most of them still are convinced that the situation will improve quickly, with sanctions being lifted and Russia’s earlier advantages as an oil and gas exporter returning.

At the same time, however, “the authorities are trying to merge all negative protest attitudes by creating the ‘Anti-Maidan’ organization,” but that act allows one to be “certain that a Maidan in Russia must at some point appear,” Okara continues.

Putin’s strategy with regard to Ukraine remains unchanged: he wants it to be within the Russian sphere of influence and not to have any independent geopolitical role. But his resources are “much less” than many believe: Moscow does not have enough forces to march on Kyiv, but it does in order to prosecute a war like the one going on now for five years.

According to the Moscow analyst, “Putin cannot retreat. A retreat would mark his end as a political figure.” Therefore, Okara says, there are three possible scenarios for the end of the war now that “all bridges have been burned” with the shelling of Mariupol and the start of an open armed invasion.

According to the Moscow analyst, “Putin cannot retreat. A retreat would mark his end as a political figure.” Therefore, Okara says, there are three possible scenarios for the end of the war now that “all bridges have been burned” with the shelling of Mariupol and the start of an open armed invasion.

In the first, Russia wins and Ukraine is dismembered into “several puppet states.” In the second, Russia loses and Russia is split up as Germany was after 1945. In that case, Russians go through what Germans did, Ukraine develops successfully, and possibly part of Russia becomes “a satellite of Ukraine with the rights of an autonomous formation.”

The third scenario, Okara says, is “a nuclear conflict with unpredictable consequences.”

Asked which of these was “the most likely,” Okara responds that “if the Ukrainian elite were mature and educated, then Ukraine now would be making world history,” but unfortunately, it lacks one. “All that civil society is doing is effective,” but “almost all that the state is doing is idiotic.”

Asked if Putin is prepared for a compromise, the Moscow analyst says that the West’s “silent acceptance” of the annexation of Crimea seemed to open the way for that as there were no sanctions then in place. He adds, however, that there is one “obligatory condition: Russia must be recognized as a world power and Putin as equal” to the leaders of the other powers.

“But after the shooting down of the Boeing, Volnovakha, and the shelling of Mariupol, no compromises are possible,” Okara says.

“…After the shooting down of the Boeing, Volnovakha, and the shelling of Mariupol, no compromises are possible.”

And that creates a most dangerous situation: “when a rat is driven into a corner, he may snap at you.” Right now, “the ‘collective Putin’ feels itself to have been driven into a dead end.” As a result, people near the top are talking about the use of nuclear weapons as if that were simply another choice. What Putin thinks about that is uncertain.

Moscow has sufficient resources to hold on for 18 months to two years, Okara says, and therefore, Russia isn’t about to collapse or disintegrate “today or tomorrow.” Indeed, it is still “unknown who will fall apart: Russia or Ukraine, especially given the policies in place now.” Russia would be at greater risk if Putin ceased to be president.

“If Ukraine does not fall apart, then it will become very strong, a center of gravity on the East European and post-Soviet spaces,” Okara says. And if Russia does, then “tens of millions of Russians will flee to Ukraine.”

In short, the Moscow analyst concludes, “Russia without Putin” will be a new “Time of Troubles,” because Putin has done everything he can to ensure that there is no real opposition or alternative to himself. “Therefore, after Putin will be a flood and global political chaos.” Fear of that is thus acting as a constraint on those who disagree with him.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Roman Korol

    Rogozin as an alternative to Putin? Pfooey. Exchanging one nazi for another.

  • Mykola Potytorsky

    no matter who replaces putler their attitude to Ukraine will not be that much different from putin – they do not believe Ukraine should be an independent country. Bottom line:there will be no change.

    • catonine

      My feeling exactly, unless by some miracle there is a moscowmaidan and the people demand to be treated as humans in a civilized democratic society. However, that’s unlikely because the people are too brainwashed by decades of soviet propaganda which never stopped even after the dissolution of the ussr.

  • Jacks Channel

    What is this pre-occupation with nuclear weapons? Has Putin lost his mind. Launch a nuclear strike about what? What a fool. This madman would kill thousands for nothing.
    Where is all of this National Ukrainian Nazism? Where are the thousands and thousands of Nazi Ukrainians? Marching up and down the street, abusing Russia speakers everywhere in Ukraine. Where are they? I see nothing. And a handful of Ukrainian Nazis does not constitute Nazism on a National scale like Putin says exists. A handful of fringe Nazis out of hundreds of thousands of law abiding Ukrainians does not constitute a threat to Russian speakers.

    • Roman
    • disqus_aJpixObjG7

      Google up Russian Parliament you will see that 78% of russia’s parliament are neo nazis. meanwhile BBC Guardian Telegraph etc etc REFUSE TO MENTION THIS GLARING REALITY and keep flogging the dead horse of “nazis in Ukraine”

      • goytoy

        Uh wat. Then wtf wa ww2 Russians despise theNazis, they lost 20million to hitler, 20,000,000. The jews lost 6M. Yet you dont see any movies of the russian slaughter but are flooded by holocaust movies. Stop being so butthurt, you do know that nato plans to make ukraine a IMF slave, heck they already took your gd reserves for credit and promise of future credit. Youre a joke. Im not russian, im mexican.

  • disqus_aJpixObjG7

    This Russian invasion of Ukraine would not be occurring if russia
    and russian stooges in Ukraine had not disarmed Ukraine of her NUCLEAR ARSENAL in
    1995.

    An egregrious strategic historic CRIMINAL act was the disarming
    of UKRAINE.

    Already back in 1993 i argued that the only interest the West
    had in UKRAINE was to de-claw it & de-fang it. No one agreed.

    THE EGREGIOUS TRAITOR CRIMINALS against their own nation,
    Kravchuk and Kuchma GAVE AWAY THE WORLD’S THIRD LARGEST NUCLEAR ARSENAL (of course Kravchuk & Kuchma pocketed hundreds of millions each).

    THE WORLD’S 3RD LARGEST NUCLEAR ARSENAL WAS GIVEN BY UKRAINE
    to…wait for it…russia!

    Kravchuk & Kuchma could have got say 500? 800? $900? billion… $ from the West
    for the Ukrainian people in return for dismantling Ukraines strategic nuclear arsenal (to just to deactivate the arsenal but keep it on Ukrainian territory.

    INSTEAD KRAVCHUK GAVE! Gave….! GAVE THIS ALL AWAY FOR his personal bribe and…wait for it… wait for it… several pounds of paper with ink on it worth perhaps ten dollars at a stationery store:

    Viz. THE BUDAPEST MEMORANDUM- sheets of toilet paper with
    signatures on them.

    BY THIS CRIMINAL ACT, THE FATE OF UKRAINE WAS SEALED. THE
    HENHOUSE SIGNED AN AGREEMENT WITH THREE FOXES.

    THE FOXES WOULD ASSURE THE SECURITY OF THE HENHOUSE AND THE
    HENS.

    These CRIMINAL FOXES ARE BETRAYING UKRAINE RIGHT NOW. THEY SWORE
    TO DEFEND BY MILITARY MEANS THE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF UKRAINE- UK, USA& RUSSIA with assurances from FRANCE & CHINA where are these 5 foxes now?

    KRAVCHUK SAID HE WOULD NEVER… EVER…ever! GIVE AWAY UKRAINE’S
    TACTICAL NUKES…

    BUT KUCHMA DID…KUCHMA GAVE THEM TO RUSSIA for his bribe AND THEY
    ARE POINTING AT UKRAINE RIGHT NOW.

    No one has ever been called to order for this unspeakable crime
    against a nation state – UKRAINE.

    DO YOU RECALL THE FOUL SMELLING LIE REPEATED A MILLION TIMES IN
    THE WESTERN MEDIA, THAT, “ukraine “inherited” the nukes from
    russia?

    UKRAINE INHERITED NOTHING whatsoever from some “russia”.
    russia STOLE ALL IT EVER HAD FROM ITS PRIZE COLONY- UKRAINE…

    In the early 90’s UKRAINE EVEN LET ITS TANKS by the thousand BE
    DEMOLISHED FOR… the “reward” of a mere $9000 each.

    THERE WOULD BE NO RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE TODAY IF UKRAINE
    HAD HER CLAWS AND TEETH- HER NUKES.

    Chamberlain came away with a piece of toilet paper with a
    signature on it BUT HE GAVE NOTHING FOR IT.

    UKRAINE GAVE AWAY…GAVE AWAY!

    CAN WE COMPREHEND it?……FOR A POUND OF PAPER AND 20 CUBIC
    METERS OF HOT AIR… what!? the world’s THIRD NUCLEAR ARSENAL!

    Their launch systems were part-controlled from Russia? so what!
    you can change the lock on a car engine, you can change the control systems on
    nukes.

    Unless the regime in KYIV are totally insane, they are INDEED
    scurrying AT THIS MOMENT to rebuild a nuclear strike capacity by UKRAINE-in secret. THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT THIS MUST OCCUR ASAP.

    ALL THE ENGINEERS WHO BUILT THE SOVIET UNION’S SPACE PROGRAM, NUCLEAR ARSENAL AND ICBMS WERE IN UKRAINE…so hopefully this know- how is being put to work on a round the clock
    basis. pls seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S…

    A russian jet was
    repatriated from russia by a UKRAINIAN pilot.

    UKRAINE NEEDS TO attempt operations on russian territory to capture and
    REPATRIATE some of its tactical nukes.
    Now none of the above advocates ever USING NUKES- but holding a big stick will avoid invasion by criminal states such as russia.

    • jmundstuk

      BS.

  • Pål Christian Bruseth

    There is only one acceptable solution; The total collapse and disintegration of Russia in to independent republics. Russia as such has now place in the civilized world. And of course, The Ukraine will prewail and estblish her self as eaqual to the great democratic nations og the World!

    • gmab

      Your wish may come true. Russia downsizes every few decades from Russian Empire, shrinking to USSR, then Soviet Russia, and now Russian Federation. East of the Urals will split & head towards China and Russia will be 1/4 the size it is now. No world power status that Putin craves in his delusional dreams. Ukraine will prevail as they are survivors, educated, & democratically oriented compared to the thugs ruling Russia.

  • StumpedNoMore2

    “…Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin…”
    *** If those two guys are put in place clearly the Russian are still asleep.

    …”Public support for Putin has not fallen, Okara says, but Russians are no longer laughing about sanctions…”
    *** Their leaders asked them to eat less, put beet on instead of lipstick, and many others while their leaders live in mansions, villas, big condos, and drive fancy foreign cars. Putin is riding in Mercedes not a Lada.

    …”Russia must be recognized as a world power and Putin as equal” to the leaders of the other powers…”
    *** They think their neighbors will welcome them with open arms. With great power comes great responsibility. Leaders lead not cause more conflicts. Even China doesn’t see Russia as an equal. Just look at those gas deals because China has all the leverage in the relationship. Respect must be earned not demanded. Do they think the Ukrainian will ever forgive them for what they did to Ukraine? They have burned so many bridges with their neighbors with their irresponsible and reckless behaviors during the past and present.

    …” And that creates a most dangerous situation: “when a rat is driven into a corner, he may snap at you…”
    *** Why corned the rat? All you have to do is weaken it by giving it food mixed with some poison. A disease ridden and weaken rat will not do any harm.

    “..Moscow has sufficient resources to hold on for 18 months to two years…”
    *** That’s why it is imperative that we give the Ukrainian what they need to defend their country. I want to bleed the rat of his reserve as soon as possible. The faster the rat is weaken, the better it is for everyone including those in Ukraine and Russia.

    “… “Russia without Putin” will be a new “Time of Troubles…”
    *** Wrong. Look at all of the dictators that they have had. The problem is that one must asked, are they going to elect someone that is normal for a change? Someone who knows how to run the economy, someone who knows how to work with their neighbors, someone who would bring genuine respect to Russia, someone who can work with the rest of the world, etc.

  • garyoptica

    For me the great game is excellently played by Putin as more Russians
    from home and resident abroad die for him in games.

    Putin of course knows in reality Russia is a cobra with no venom or a boa with no embrace.

    “Trouble is is so well played it could well be Russias final act”

  • The Great Stalin

    Comrades, it is time to employ a capitalist roader construction company skilled in the art of building bunkers!!!! The Great Stalin has a large bunker already built under his humble Crimean dacha!!!! In the event of nuclear warfare, he will be joined there by Dasha, Sasha, Natasha, Masha and the 40,318 volumes of the Collected Works of Lenin!!!!

    • garyoptica

      Bunker busting nukes have been around for ages and they even have certain well known figures names on so their is no place to hide that is safe in that event.

  • Tjeerd Ossewaarde

    an other facade article, to cover the real situation and intentions of the nomenklatura around Putin, but hardliners could spell more trouble, for russia that is

  • s.a.johanssen

    The crew (Russians) are following their mad captain as for many Putin is a genius with Crimea and so on.Oppostion have tough times now as Putin have been tightening everywhere.Now we also have the Anti-Maidan which in reality is a militsia cracking down on any opposition.Therfore,the average Russian feel reasonable safe when not saying or doing anything that may be seen as out of the line.Therfore also the high rating for Putin as none will say no in a poll asked if they supposrt Putin or not.For the siloviki matters are different in the present (worsening) situation for their personal economic situation.Some suprice may come from this groupe when they dare.

  • garyoptica

    “Russia displays just how mad a tea party can really get.”

    Who would of thought a nation that sold the French revolution to its criminal classes
    would now harbour a hundred Kleptomaniacs telling their people to go away and eat
    buck wheat as they assemble new toys of mass destruction for their tatty violin cases.

    • disqus_aJpixObjG7

      Bravo Gary! You are the first I have heard who understands that there NEVER WAS any DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT, rather, THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE WORST, EGREGIOUS CRIMINAL ELEMENTS. The real proletarians went through the lenin/stalin/castro/pol pot meat grinder

  • JT

    Hristo – it is you have been filled with lies. Russia may deceive its own citizens, and that not for long. The only fascists in power in Eastern Europe are in Moscow and, possibly, in Hungary. The former chose to attack a neighboring state that threw out a tyrant in the making, the latter are dealing with their own issues. And that’s the truth, buddy.

    • StumpedNoMore2

      Hristo, you came over here now? I’ve seen you on Bloomberg viewpoint the other day. Out of all places, you came over here to start stuff at thee Ukrainian site. How many comment sections are you going to close down? Now no one can comment on any of the articles on Bloomberg except the viewpoint section. smh..

    • JT

      Look, there are only 2 (!) far-right organizations in Ukraine, enjoying the support of less than 2% of the population. In Russia, in contrast, there are 189(!) registered far-right groups. Dugin, a reknown Russian fascist, is one of Putin’s closest advisers.

      Here’s a good article on the matter: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexander-motyl/putin-calls-ukraine-fasci_b_6600292.html.

      In short, are there far-right groups in Ukraine – yes, but very few in number and low in membership. A parade of several hundred people doesn’t prove anything – there were far larger parades of the same kind in Moscow just over a month ago.

  • Roman

    Putin is a conscience-impaired psychopath. Why do Muscovites admire him? Check this out
    https://hiddenvariable.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/damn-interesting-the-unburdened-mind/

  • Philip Neil Larmett

    Hristo
    This information is 11 months old.
    The Ukrainians have elected a new president and a new parliament since then.
    And Svoboda has no influence to speak of any more.
    Keep up with events if you wish to comment!

  • Bill Pannell

    This article is hollow.

  • A Simple Guest

    is this article TRUE?

    ”Обама начнет третью мировую с
    Крыма ”

    26 декабря, 16:58 | Арсений ПАЛКИН

    http://www.utro.ru/2008/12/26/peredovica/

    ….

    Obama begins the third world war in the Crimea

    December 26 , 16:58 | Arseny Palkin

    http://www.utro.ru/2008/12/26/peredovica/

    Under the new U.S. President
    Barack Obama in the Crimea will be implemented scenario of armed conflict.
    ” It is the American scenario , and under Obama the probability is much
    higher than under McCain, ” – said at a roundtable in Kiev, Russian
    political scientist Andrei Okara , said ” New Region ” .