Staunton, June 6 – In constructing the autocracy of which he is so proud, Vladimir Putin has destroyed the feedback links on which every leader must rely, Aleksandr Tsipko says. Not only are his subordinates afraid to disagree with him, but the entire system fails to provide the Kremlin leader with the information he needs to modify policies working against it.
According to the senior Russian commentator, one of the most frightening aspects of the war in Ukraine is that it has become painfully obvious that Putin alone made the decision to invade and that no one in his entourage was prepared to tell him of the risks involved in doing so (ng.ru/ideas/2022-06-06/7_8454_intuition.html).
And related to this is Putin’s unwillingness to accept any information that challenges his assumptions. He expected Ukrainians to welcome Russian troops and simultaneously believed that all Ukrainians are Banderite nationalists and thus took actions that produced the opposite of what he wanted because he failed to understand the nature of Ukraine and Ukrainians.
Experts could have helped him had he been willing to listen and had they not feared the consequences of telling the supreme leader what he did not want to hear. But they were too afraid and he was too unwilling to listen and thus as a result, his regime has been “losing its instinct for self-preservation.
Putin has been able to do so because the Russian population he claims to represent is all too willing to hand over responsibility to a single ruler to make all decisions rather than become a participant in that process and insist that decisions take reality into account and not just the whims and wishes of the man at the top.
But that pattern, Tsipko says, means that it is not just Putin and his regime who is losing this instinct needed for survival but the majority of the Russian population as a whole. By failing to demand that the Kremlin leader pay attention to reality, the Russian people are depriving themselves of this fundamental instinct as well.