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Loyalty and competence in Russia's armed forces
In the final week before the State Duma’s summer recess, Russian lawmakers have been ramming through some curious legislation, including several initiatives the authorities would apparently like to roll out now before Putin’s re-election campaign presumably kicks off in the fall. Notably, one last-minute amendment empowers the president to charge governors with the creation of “special militarized formations” during periods of mobilization, wartime, and martial law. These new armed groups, controlled by the state but separate from the military, will be yet another factor in Russia’s complicated civil-military relations — a subject that’s gained even more global attention in the aftermath of last month’s mutiny by Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group mercenaries.
To learn more about the “specialized enterprises” forged in this new legislation and to explore what such a project says about the relationship between the military and everything else in Russia, Meduza welcomes back Kirill Shamiev, a Russian political scientist and a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, who recently wrote an essay on this subject for Carnegie Politika, titled “Suspensions, Detentions, and Mutinies: The Growing Gulf in Russia’s Civil-Military Relations.”
Timestamps for this episode:
- (3:27) Is the Russian military’s chief struggle that Putin values loyalty over competence?
- (7:56) Former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s reforms and civilian innovations
- (10:51) Putin’s reluctance to spend political capital
- (15:23) Russia’s forthcoming “specialized militarized formations”
Production and mixing by Ania Kovalenko. Sound editing by Kevin Rothrock.
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