Saturday, May 21, 2022

Putin’s Power Vertical Responsible for High Death Rate among Senior Russian Officers in Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 6 – More Russians have died in Putin’s war in Ukraine in two months than did in the Soviet war in Afghanistan over the space of 10 years, something that media outlets stress is degrading the capability of the Russian army but that importantly reflects the nature of the Putin system and its lack of confidence in anything but personal reporting.

            “Every death of a general makes the Russian armed forces less effective, Moscow analyst Pavel Luzhin says, as “it can take days or even weeks to replace them;” and in the interim, there is confusion in the command (

            That is true in all armies and why most keep general officers out of harms way, but the fact that these deaths are happening in the Russian case reflects the suspiciousness about inadequate reporting by junior officers to their seniors and by the military to the political leadership in the Kremlin.

            This lack of confidence is endemic in the Russian system and means that senior officials have to take risks in collecting information that officials and general officers would not have to take in other countries where trust in the reporting of subordinates is more widespread. And that is the more important reason why the death toll of Russian generals is so telling.

            Putin holed up in his bunker won’t go to the front, but he clearly is not prepared to accept anything but first-hand reporting by senior people including general officers – and the number of those he has confidence in is narrowing, a clear sign of the deterioration of his regime and its ability to function.

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