Putin’s oligarchs will have ‘nowhere to hide’ with widened sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine – as UK ‘rules nothing out’


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He can handle one or two at a time, but if they all turn on him simultaneously, he has a big problem. He wants to pull all the levers in his country himself, but he can't, he needs other people's money and other people's power to supplement and stabilize his own.

Putin has become less popular within his own clique since sanctions ramped up after the assassination in the UK and the attempts on Navalny. The oligarchs were very unhappy that they were explicitly targeted for sanctions due to Putin's actions.

Sure, he does everything he can to truly be the "strongman" that all should fear, including his allies, but the fact that he still requires a network of oligarchs to be his allies is also a weakness in his rule. The oligarchy still matters, he can't rule without them. The oligarchs themselves are not stupid, they're not just waiting around twiddling their thumbs for Putin to either assassinate them or nationalize their industries. They expect returns for their loyalty and support. If their returns crumble, loyalty and support will vanish... fear may replace it and keep them in-line, but as long as their facade of unity crumbles, it's bad for Putin and good for everyone else. A network of people working with you in good faith because they're getting something good out of it is better than a network of people who only comply because they fear you. It's an inherently weaker system.

Putin may turn to populism and do things like, y'know, invade Ukraine, to try to bolster the popularity of his rule with the underclasses, but Russians are not responding very positively to their own country's aggression right now, they have domestic problems they want to see solved and their government isn't even trying to solve them. Less popularity among the masses and problems with his own oligarchs is not where Putin wants to be.

We shouldn't act like Putin is literally God in Russia. He wants to be, but he still isn't. Using fear to control oligarchs is a very precarious strategy, whether Putin "made" them or not.

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