Leadership: Russian Internal Conflicts and Corruption


October 30, 2023: Russian forces in Ukraine have a lot of internal problems that weaken their ability to fight the Ukrainians. Internal fighting between Russian troops belonging to different ethnic groups sometimes turns deadly. These animosities often interfere with combat operations because the two groups don’t trust each other. There are similar problems between regular troops and irregulars. Both are supposed to cooperate in combat but that often does not happen.

Commanders with these irregular or non-Russian troops often have problems using these different types of soldiers to cooperate in combat. These off-duty differences don’t disappear when the fighting starts. Another problem with maintaining troop morale is providing the troops with adequate combat equipment, which includes helmets, protective vests and combat glasses to protect eyes from the tiny but injurious debris created during combat. Economic sanctions have prevented Russia from manufacturing all this essential equipment for its soldiers. To deal with that Russia smuggles in the equipment from China via Turkish companies with many years of smuggling experience.

Russia is having a different set of problems in the portions of Ukraine they still occupy. There Russia is seeking to Russianize the Ukrainians. This is a difficult process and often takes a generation or two of effort to make it work. Ultimately Russia wants to do this throughout Ukraine, but the Ukrainians are resisting. To speed up the process the Russians are concentrating on the children in Russian occupied Ukraine, often by kidnapping them to Russia for placement in orphanages or with foster parents. Ukraine complained to the UN, which agreed it was wrong and declared Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal because of this policy. Putin continued with his Russification program and only the expulsion of Russian troops from Ukraine will stop it. Ukraine is in the process of pushing the Russians out. Putin is resisting despite the damage economic sanctions have done to the Russian economy. Then there is the human loss, with over 300,000 Russian soldiers dead so far. Putin is seeking to placate the families of the dead with large cash death benefits. This dampens but does not eliminate popular resistance to the losses.

Putin had also invested $22 million to make Crimea a tourist attraction, mainly for Russians seeking a pleasant and warmer place to visit during the winter. The number of winter visitors was always large because Crimea had a pleasant climate during the harsh winters common to most of Russia. When the Soviet Union existed, a lot of Russians earned free vacations in Crimea because of their accomplishments at work. Most of the senior government and military officials, known as the nomenklatura, also had winter homes in Crimea. All this changed after 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, and Crimea was now part of Ukraine. Russia took back Crimea in 2014 but it was not the same as before 1991. Since the 2022 Russian invasion it has gotten worse.

The growing number of Ukrainian attacks on Crimea have forced most of the Russian Black Sea Fleet to move. The Ukrainians use various types of missiles as well as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and USVs (Unmanned Surface Vessels) carrying explosive warheads to destroy military targets, including bases, ports, headquarters and airfields. While civilian targets are spared, the military facilities are a major source of employment. When these facilities are damaged, destroyed and shut down, the civilians leave. Now Ukrainian forces are getting close to the narrow isthmus that connects Crimean to the mainland and the other access point, the Kerch Strait bridge in southeastern Crimea is also under constant attack. The civilians are leaving and not many civilian visitors are arriving. As the situation in Crimea deteriorates, corruption by local officials makes matters worse. The situation won’t improve until the war ends, and the Ukrainians insist they won’t stop fighting until Crimea, and other Russian occupied parts of Ukraine are free of Russian troops.




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