Putin Tightens Grip on Power
Russia’s people are suffering, at the same time that Putin strengthens his personal grip on Russia’s wealth and power, including tightened personal control of “Interior Ministry troops, SWAT, and riot police forces, as well as the Center for Special Rapid Reaction Force and the Interior Ministry Aviation, along with government agencies dealing with government-sanctioned arms trafficking and the provision of private security services,” which will report directly to the little big man.
Putin has created a large armed formation subordinate directly to him — a formation that could target Russian society. Indeed, Putin appointed one of his bodyguards as head of the force.
… According to the official document, the main objectives of Rosgvardiya will be “protection of public order, combating terrorism and extremism, participation in territorial defense, the protection of important state facilities and special cargo.” The law also opens up the possibility of using National Guard troops in international operations “to restore and maintain peace.” Rosgvadriya now picks up all official paramilitary duties of the Ministry of the Interior, whose forces were designed to maintain order across Russia, with varying results.
Putin has re-drawn the power map of Russian forces of all kinds to make sure that no force commanders below him could seize power in a coup. This move also gives Putin Hitlerian powers to immediately override force commanders in either declared or undeclared wars.
“The surprise announcement signals that the Putin administration is worried about instability, in Russia as well as the Kremlin itself,” US security and intelligence firm Stratfor said in an analysis following Putin’s announcement. “This may suggest that the Russian president doubts whether other security forces — the FSB [Federal Security Service], Interior Ministry troops, or even the military — would remain loyal to him in the event of a coup.” __ https://news.vice.com/article/putins-new-national-guard-strengthens-his-grip-on-security-as-russian-economy-falters
Putin’s Moves Reflect Earlier Actions by Xi in China
China’s Xi is the country’s President, the Communist Party Secretary, chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission, and now commander in chief of the military’s Joint Operations Command Center.
China has no military apart from the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party, known as the People’s Liberation Army. (Imagine if all US military and security forces were under the direct control of the Republican Party) Xi has re-organised China’s military and paramilitary structures to centralise command structures to fall even more directly under his own control — stripping regional commanders of much of their clout.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, has already grasped more power more quickly than his two recent predecessors, and he has shown a taste for audacious decisions and a loathing for dissent. But a new push to praise him as China’s “core” leader, a term resonant with the formidable stature once held by Deng Xiaoping, suggests that his steely quest for dominance is not over.
… On Jan. 7, the Politburo Standing Committee, the seven-member inner circle of party power run by Mr. Xi, demanded unwavering loyalty to the central leadership and to him, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.
… “He’s been reconfiguring the patterns of Chinese politics to strengthen his position step by step,” Mr. Jin said. “The anticorruption campaign, taking control of law and order, reforming of the military, all have concentrated power,” he said. “This ‘core’ expression is another step.”
Such dramatic moves to consolidate power on the part of Putin and Xi point to an anticipation by both men of the need to act in a prompt and dramatic fashion against perceived opposition and enemy forces — either foreign or domestic. These moves amount to the assumption of dictatorial powers, when taken together with other acts by these men to consolidate control over the government.
Such Power Plays Often Signal Plans for War
Although recent sabre-rattling by both Moscow and Beijing has had the effect of driving away badly needed foreign investment, quasi-dictators Putin and Xi have persisted in alienating their neighbors and triggering heightened defensive measures by NATO and free Asian alliances in the Pacific.
While the people of China remain mired in poverty and the people of Russia sink once again into a quagmire of national decay, the strong-arm leaders of the two nations are moving toward dangerous illegal confrontations that could easily escalate to regional and global war.
Demography is Destiny
Both Russia and China are beginning to lose working-aged and military-aged populations — although Russia is much farther down the decline curve than is China. In a decade, Russia will not have the manpower to defend its current borders — much less attempt to expand them.
China, on the other hand, is still growing in overall population — and China’s military is growing in strength, size, and sophistication at a rate that Russia will never be able to match. In other words, China is reaching a demographic plateau which it can use as a strong power base. Russia is well on the downward slope — and thanks to having made enemies of most of its neighbors, is growing dangerously dependent on its neighbor to the southeast which happens to be casting covetous eyes toward valuable Siberian assets.
In other words, Russia is setting itself up to be China’s pleasure woman, and having backed himself into a corner Putin can do nothing but grit his teeth and hold on for the ride. “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven,” not that he has much choice any longer.
We are living in unstable times. Erdogan has decided that he needs to imitate frenemies to his north and east, and is rapidly consolidating his own dictatorial hold on power in Turkey. Such moves are death to a nation’s economy, but in the short term may help a dictator to sleep more easily at night.