15 votes

The rules for rulers: How dictatorships work, and why Russia is heading towards a coup

22 comments

  1. [20]
    Adys
    Link
    It's time for you to watch this video again, if you've already seen it. You may remember it's been adapted from The Dictator's Handbook, a book I cannot recommend enough. It's truly enlightening....

    It's time for you to watch this video again, if you've already seen it. You may remember it's been adapted from The Dictator's Handbook, a book I cannot recommend enough. It's truly enlightening.

    Day 4 is winding down. Yesterday and today have been turning points. After Ukraine not only survived the first 72 hours, but became the world's most beloved country and garnered the support of a huge majority of countries, a few things are becoming clear:

    1. Countries that could have joined and supported Russia are backing off. Belarus is seeing the damage and growing more and more hesitant at joining the war. China is starting to actively speak out against it.
    2. Oligarchs (Putin's Keys! Watch the video already.) find themselves in ever hotter water as they're being sanctioned and hit directly, and the smarter ones are already starting to speak out against the man.
    3. The country's economy is being hit extremely hard as its natural resources have become a toxic asset and are being dumped at a loss left and right.
    4. The people in Russia are bearing a lot of the economic consequences, and this is just the beginning.

    Important disclaimer: politics is my hobby, not my job thank fuck. I'm also not Russian; in fact, through my SO I've mostly only seen Russian propaganda; eastern Ukraine is very pro-Russia... or well, used to be, she's not quite in that mood anymore, who knew?
    But if there is one lesson to learn from the book, it's how to recognize what is going on in Russia: A break neck speed crash towards a Coup d'Etat.

    The propaganda machine is still active within the country, but it can't keep up anymore. Protests ongoing, never seen before at this scale against Putin, in a country that restricts freedom of assembly so much. Thousands upon thousands imprisoned. Again, this is just the beginning: The ruble still has some buying power, Russians still have access to a lot of western products. The way the wind is blowing is clear, and if Russia is unable to bear the cost, Putin will find himself losing all his key supporters.

    I'd love some Russian insight on this. If Putin is displaced, who replaces him? Seems unlikely Navalny would be able to come back on the scene (in fact, I'd feel very nervous if I were him right now; he's never been more of a threat to Putin than right now).

    Things are moving fast. There's a few potential ways this doesn't come to pass:

    • Putin steps down, possibly as a result of peace negotiations. This is the most likely alternative scenario, IMO.
    • Putin dies without a coup happening. Foreign assassination, suicide, or even just one pissed off citizen too many.
    • Russia recovers somehow. This could happen if Putin backtracks and makes massive concessions, but the bigger the concessions the more power and influence Putin loses, making a coup likely for other reasons. It could also happen if a huge player changes their mind and starts supporting Russia I suppose (eg. China, but again, they see where the wind is blowing and they're getting ahead of this).
    • Russia quickly loses, and finds the money to recover from this huge hit. This is another scenario where Putin is still at a huge risk.
    • Russia turns up the aggression to 11. World war / world ending scenarios. It seems pointless to discuss this because either it doesn't happen, or it does and what the fuck then? (Hi from Brussels!)
    • We're all idiots living in a propaganda bubble that spans the entire world except for Russia. Are my hands real?

    So in my mind, this is somewhere between highly likely to inevitable. Boy oh boy have things changed in 10 days. I thought I'd see him die on the throne in a decade or two. Now I'm thinking he probably won't make it to Christmas.

    Who wants to take the over/under on June 7, 2022? Lots of things can happen in 13 weeks.

    Video links:

    14 votes
    1. [3]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      I don't think there's enough consideration of Russia "winning". I think the modal outcome is still that Russia "wins". The reality is still martially grim for Ukraine - they're still dramatically...

      I don't think there's enough consideration of Russia "winning". I think the modal outcome is still that Russia "wins". The reality is still martially grim for Ukraine - they're still dramatically outmanned and outgunned, with Russian gains in the south of the nation soon about to pose a serious problem.

      There's no doubt that none of this is going to Russia's plans, but that only means it went from a certainty to at the very least a pyrrhic victory for Russia, with each day of the war costing an estimated $20b, civil unrest at a level unheard of in Putin's reign, becoming a universal pariah among nation states, intense economic pressure, and the almost certainty of a long, painful occupation ahead if they take Kyiv.

      But they're still favored. It was never a fair fight. Most likely Russia will eventually take Kyiv. Putin can throw the kitchen sink at this front, at an unbelievable cost to the Russian state yes, but an option nonetheless. Something major would have to happen very quickly in Moscow to save Kyiv.

      God only knows what happens after that - clearly the Ukrainian people have shown they have more than enough heart to make every day for new puppet regime as painful as possible, it's unlikely sanctions will let up, and troop deployments to keep the puppet regime propped up only gets more expensive.

      15 votes
      1. teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        Russia could be more-or-less locked out of the global economy for years. I'm sure they'll take over Ukraine if there isn't an immediate coup. But their long-term prospects don't look good. Every...

        Russia could be more-or-less locked out of the global economy for years. I'm sure they'll take over Ukraine if there isn't an immediate coup. But their long-term prospects don't look good. Every day pressure for a change in government will grow.

        6 votes
      2. Adys
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        That’s covered in my “Russia recovers somehow” bullet point. Keep in mind that taking Ukraine doesn’t necessarily make this worth it in any way. Ukraine itself is mostly irrelevant if Russia...

        That’s covered in my “Russia recovers somehow” bullet point.

        Keep in mind that taking Ukraine doesn’t necessarily make this worth it in any way. Ukraine itself is mostly irrelevant if Russia doesn’t have enough money to keep its keys to power around. And if anything it’s even more people and protests to deal with.

        That’s what people mean when they say “even if he wins, Putin has already lost”

        If they take Ukraine I don’t see a coup as any less likely.

        cc @drannex

        4 votes
    2. drannex
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      There's a few other possibilities: Russia "un/successfully" invades Ukraine, Ukraine agrees to become a more "autonomous region" of Russia un/officially, both sides look successful to their bloque...

      There's a few other possibilities:

      • Russia "un/successfully" invades Ukraine, Ukraine agrees to become a more "autonomous region" of Russia un/officially, both sides look successful to their bloque or people. Similar to the beginning of Hong Kong. Russia already has four official such regions.
      • Russia successfully invades Ukraine, the Ukraine Government "concedes", and the world unilaterally begins to "forget" that all this happens. Just like Crimea. Or Hong Kong. Or... Or...

      Speaking of Ore: Resources are valuable, oligarchs (billionaires as we call them from anywhere else....) have money in every market across the globe and access with or without sanctions directly, indirectly, and directly indirectly. Resources are still resources, regardless of the blood on them.

      This is sadly a very possible outcome on both sides. I hope it's not the outcome, but its possible.

      7 votes
    3. [5]
      Adys
      Link Parent
      https://mobile.twitter.com/KyivIndependent/status/1505518177932955649

      https://mobile.twitter.com/KyivIndependent/status/1505518177932955649

      Ukraine’s military intelligence claim that Russia’s elites scheme to overthrow Putin to restore economic ties with Western countries.

      Aleksandr Bortnikov, head of FSB security agency, is allegedly being considered as Putin’s successor, according to Ukraine's intelligence.

      4 votes
      1. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        The interesting thing about a statement like that is how little it matters if it's true. With purges already happening, unless everyone trusts each other implicitly this'll kick something off.

        The interesting thing about a statement like that is how little it matters if it's true. With purges already happening, unless everyone trusts each other implicitly this'll kick something off.

        4 votes
      2. stu2b50
        Link Parent
        This makes me pretty doubtful of the veracity of this report. Ever since the 98 financial crisis, power in Russia has not been in the hands of economic oligarchs, but the siloviki. And while...

        to restore economic ties with Western countries.

        This makes me pretty doubtful of the veracity of this report. Ever since the 98 financial crisis, power in Russia has not been in the hands of economic oligarchs, but the siloviki. And while certainly in their positions of power they are no doubt very wealthy now, their fundamentally martial roots make "restoring economic ties with the West" a pretty unconvincing motive - ex-FSB, ex-KGB folk who lived through the late 90s, early aughts are going to take nationalism over italian fur coats any day.

        4 votes
      3. [2]
        Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        The more important question is "Does this mean anything for Democracy in Russia?", and little here says that it will be particularly good for people like Navalny.

        The more important question is "Does this mean anything for Democracy in Russia?", and little here says that it will be particularly good for people like Navalny.

        1 vote
        1. Adys
          Link Parent
          Well, no, I disagree that this is the "more important question". It's certainly an important question, but to me the most important thing is that Putin gets displaced by someone who would want to...

          Well, no, I disagree that this is the "more important question". It's certainly an important question, but to me the most important thing is that Putin gets displaced by someone who would want to stop the war (no matter the reason why).

          It's critical to remember that Putin himself is incredibly powerful, and has done a lot to keep control over power, so him getting displaced is going to be a net benefit as whoever replaces him will have strictly less power and influence over the country. This inherently limits how autocratic the next ruler can be, if it's not someone Putin himself decides on.

          The biggest variable is why the coup happens. The quoted tweet cites "restoring economic ties with western countries" as the primary reason. In this scenario, western countries get a lot of influence over who can replace Putin, and what the first steps can be.

          We can immediately imagine the west asking for the following:

          • An immediate stop to the aggression
          • A roll back to the pre-2014 Ukrainian borders
          • Removal of a variety of limitations on freedom of assembly, press and speech in Russia

          That last one is key. I'd ask for this if I were at that table, because it forces Russia into more of a democracy and further restricts the power and influence a new ruler would have. It's not all roses of course, and it's difficult to enforce, but if the goal is to get the west back as a trading partner, well, the west gets to decide when it's happy to trade again.
          I'm pretty sure there will be talks about for example denuclearisation of Russia, which will lead to nothing and will be given up in favour of subtler things like the above. The new ruler gets to save face, "preserve" Russian might, while the west gets to prevent a new Vlad situation.

          2 votes
    4. [9]
      dootdoot
      Link Parent
      Ill take over! Wanna do it over crypto?

      Ill take over! Wanna do it over crypto?

      1 vote
      1. [8]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        Russia? Best of luck, let me know if I can help :) How's $200 to the Ukrainian charity of your choice sound, instead of crypto? For a coup on or before June 7, 2022 (Moscow time).

        Ill take over!

        Russia? Best of luck, let me know if I can help :)

        How's $200 to the Ukrainian charity of your choice sound, instead of crypto? For a coup on or before June 7, 2022 (Moscow time).

        3 votes
        1. [7]
          dootdoot
          Link Parent
          Coup must be successful Does that mean youre taking under? If so, deal

          Coup must be successful
          Does that mean youre taking under?
          If so, deal

          1 vote
          1. [6]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            Deal ;)

            Deal ;)

            2 votes
            1. [5]
              dootdoot
              Link Parent
              👍👍

              👍👍

              1 vote
              1. [4]
                dootdoot
                Link Parent
                👀 👀 👀 👀 👀 👀

                👀 👀 👀 👀 👀 👀

                1 vote
                1. [3]
                  Adys
                  Link Parent
                  Yes yes :) Pick your charity ;)

                  Yes yes :)

                  Pick your charity ;)

                  1 vote
  2. [3]
    Comment removed by site admin
    Link
    1. MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      I'm sorry you feel that way. It must be a scary world where you feel so endlessly beset for no justifiable reason. An unjust world when everyone turns against you when you've done nothing wrong....

      I'm sorry you feel that way. It must be a scary world where you feel so endlessly beset for no justifiable reason. An unjust world when everyone turns against you when you've done nothing wrong. When dangers lurk on your borders and you're castigated only for defending yourself.

      Except that Putin isn't defending Russia, he's leading an aggressive war against a sovereign, democratic nation. You're not defending yourself, you're attacking. And the world is turning against you because you've done something unjustifiable.

      12 votes
    2. Adys
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I don’t blame you. I don’t think anyone here really does. It’s horrendously sad to see your posts but i only feel bad for you, not for what you’re writing....

      I don’t blame you.

      I don’t think anyone here really does. It’s horrendously sad to see your posts but i only feel bad for you, not for what you’re writing.

      https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/209111/de-croo-in-this-conflict-the-russian-people-are-not-the-adversary

      My SO was bombarded with Russian propaganda right up until her world fell apart. You can read about it in my previous posts.

      There is nothing that shattered my heart more than seeing everything she believed in crumble before her eyes. Hearing her say “Putin is saying these things… but they’re not reality, I don’t understand”

      When it happens to you (and it will), I beg of you to remember this post and remember that we don’t blame you for your beliefs.

      8 votes