The generals’ plot against Putin

On 22 July, 1944, Claus von Stauffenberg attempted to kill Hitler, unsuccessfully. In the aftermath, almost 5,000 conspirators were executed.

Many of them were high-ranking generals, including Erwin Rommel, one of Germany’s most talented field commanders. All those officers wanted to wrestle political control from Hitler and seek favourable surrender terms, thereby saving whatever was left of Germany.

Reading today’s news from Russia, I’m here to report that exactly the same thing has… not happened there. But the operative word here isn’t ‘not’. It’s ‘exactly’.

For something has happened that suggests that the generals are telling Putin in no uncertain terms that they’ve had enough. More important, he is forced to listen.

Four days ago, deputy head of the General Staff, Gen. Rutskoy, hinted that the war objectives were changing. Russia was abandoning the idea of total victory and was ready to limit her appetite. Instead of capturing Kiev and putting paid to the Ukraine’s sovereignty, the Russians were prepared to consolidate, and slightly expand, their hold on Donbass.

That wasn’t just a lowly Major-General running off at the mouth, as it turns out. Earlier today Defence Minister Shoigu, flanked by the Who’s Who of the Russian high command, held a teleconference in which he admitted defeat by claiming victory.

“Overall, the main goals of the first stage have been accomplished,” Shoigu said, trying to sound triumphant, but failing. “The combat potential of the Ukrainian armed forces has significantly decreased which allows us to focus the main attention and main efforts on achieving the main goal – the liberation of Donbass.”

Excuse me? Since when is that “main goal” so puny? When Putin launched the ‘special operation’, he stated much loftier objectives: the “demilitarisation and denazification” of the Ukraine. That is, liberating not just Donbass but the whole country from her Nazi regime (led by two Jews, Zelensky and his defence minister Reznikov).

In other words, wiping an independent Ukraine off the map and reincorporating her into whatever the Russian Empire calls itself these days. And now the generals are openly admitting the war objective hasn’t been achieved. That’s how military defeat has been defined since Thucydides at least.

It’s also a message to Putin: you can scream about ridding the world of the Judaeo-Banderite Ukrainian Nazis to your heart’s content, but the army has had enough. 

Some 15,000 Russian men have been killed, at least seven of them generals (for comparison’s sake, America has lost two generals in all her post-1953 wars). Most of their bodies were left where they fell, to rot in the field and to be devoured by wild beasts and stray dogs.

That treatment of fallen soldiers is nothing new for Russia, of course. Thousands if not millions of soldiers killed in the Second World War were never buried properly. And the burial sites of even 43 (!) generals remain unknown to this day.

But Putin isn’t Stalin, much as I hate to break the news to him. And his generals, while not quite matching their Nazi colleagues in professionalism, are perhaps taking their cue from the Germans’ treatment of impending defeat.

None of them has so far done a Stauffenberg, but the very fact it’s the generals, rather than their Commander-In-Chief, who have made the announcement speaks whole libraries, not just volumes. No matter how they spin the war, Russia has lost.

Khrushchev also tried to spin the Cuban crisis, presenting it as a victory. Yet no one believed him, and his Kremlin days were numbered.

Then the Soviets tried to spin their 1989 retreat from Afghanistan as a resounding success, and the USSR collapsed in 1991, partly as a result of what everyone knew was a humiliating defeat (another comparison: in the past month the Russians have lost roughly as many men as during the 10-year war in Afghanistan).

I don’t want to jump the gun, as it were. It’s possible that the teleconference and the Russian troop movements in the Ukraine are merely a ruse de guerre. The Russians may be trying to create a long operational pause, regroup and then go on the offensive again, perhaps this time with doomsday weapons.

One can’t put anything past them, and yet it does look as though Putin no longer has the support of the army, and quite possibly of the other siloviki (FSB, internal troops, National Guard, armed police units etc.). If so, and you know how much it pains me to say so, it’s not just his political life that’s hanging by a thread.

Generally speaking, I try not to indulge in conjecture and guesswork. Cassandra’s fate isn’t something that appeals to me. But one has to analyse what one sees, especially if such analysis isn’t peddled as God’s own truth.

Let’s wait for Putin’s announcement. Will there be one? Ever? I don’t know. But then it’s not just faith and charity that are cardinal virtues, but also hope.

P.S. Shoigu also mentioned in passing that no general mobilisation is on the cards. No doubt millions of Russian mothers heaved a cautious sigh of relief.

10 thoughts on “The generals’ plot against Putin”

  1. You are suitably cautious, Mr Boot, but a mere British old-age pensioner can be at least optimistic. That I am.

    The most surprising thing to have emerged from all this, one part of it in your piece today, is the fact that some Ukrainian leaders are of Jewish origin. Given what little I know of the local history both before and since 1933, I find that both surprising and encouraging. I would never have predicted that such an affiliation would be compatible with mass electoral support in that part of the World.

    1. I understand your point, but the U.S. elected “catholic” Joe Biden. He was elected by non-Catholics who realized he is not actually Catholic and by Catholics who have been swallowed by modernity and thus see his Catholicism as (non)virtuous as their own. Is it possible the same is true for Zelensky and Reznikov? Of course, while Catholicism is sneered at in the U.S., it has nowhere near the stigma of Judaism in eastern Europe. At any rate, they have shown the world it is possible to stand up to Putin and for that they are to be commended.

  2. If this signals then end, and I certainly hope so, then we wait to see how the western leaders respond to the needs for rebuilding.

    1. Repairing the damage that the Russians have caused in Ukraine is a major point. The repair bill, by rights, should be paid by Russia, not by Western charity or state sources. That seems obvious to me.

  3. Von Stauffenberg did not have to worry about a successful coup with atomic weapons wandering about. Chaos of a coup could create even worse circumstances.

  4. Well, well, well.

    It seems the long war favours Putin. Russian forces will soon have mastery of the skies, no doubt the military is regrouping and will correct its mistakes. Ukraine cannot endure for long.
    Russia is exporting her earthly stuff to the tune of $ 1.1 billion a day (500 – 700 000 to Europe) and will have the largest current account in her history this year, $200 billion (Goldman Sachs). Given Russia’s history of mystical nationalism no coup against the top dog can be even contemplated.

    1. ‘No doubt’ are loaded words in this context, and I try to avoid them. Good to see that you are braver than me. I do envy such self-confidence.

      It’s hard to argue against predictions for the future. Show me yours, I’ll show you mine is about the size of it.

      Suffice it to say that Russia’s air supremacy may not last, considering the number of, among others, British Star Streak AA systems flowing into the Ukraine. One thing for sure: air supremacy doesn’t win wars by itself. Germany, for example, fought effectively for at least a year and a half while practically unchallenged Allied bombers dropped close to 3 megatons of high explosives on the country.

      But your last sentence flies in the face of Russia’s whole history. Mystical nationalism? No coup can be contemplated? Russia was just as mystically nationalist in the 18th century during which coups unseated half a dozen Romanov ‘top dogs’. And the last Romanov tsar wasn’t protected by mystical nationalism either. Lenin de facto, Stalin probably, Beria and Khrushchev definitely were removed by coups. In fact, I can’t think offhand of any other major country in which so many ‘top dogs’ have been ousted by coups within the same period.

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