Russia’s bureaucratic incompetence risks undermining Putin’s annexation – ISW

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Russian authorities will “struggle to establish governance structures” over four annexed Ukrainian provinces due to “bureaucratic incompetence,” according to the Washington DC-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Vladimir Putin signed “accession treaties” merging Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson into the Russian Federation on Friday. This followed referendums in the four regions which were dismissed as “rigged” and a “hoax” by Western powers.

The move sparked a furious reaction from the world’s leading democracies, with the G7 group of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the US issuing a joint statement saying they would “never recognize” the annexation, which they marked “a new low in Russia’s flagrant disregard for international law.” Following the announcement, new sanctions were imposed on Russia by the US, EU and UK

In its latest assessment of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, published on September 30, the ISW said Russia is likely to struggle to control the annexed territory.

Putin addresses an annexation rally in Red Square
People take part in a rally and concert marking the annexation of four regions of Ukraine occupied by Russian troops – Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, in Red Square in central Moscow on September 30, 2022. According to the Institute of War studies will Russia fight to control the newly annexed regions.
STRINGER/AFP/GETTY

The think tank said: “Putin likely rushed the annexation of these territories before making even basic administrative decisions about borders and governance. Russian officials have therefore not set clear policies or conditions for proper administration.”

“Organizing governance for these four forcibly annexed oblasts would be bureaucratically challenging for any state after Russian forces have systematically killed, arrested or driven out the Ukrainian officials who previously headed the regional administrations.

“However, the bureaucratic incompetence demonstrated by the Kremlin’s attempt to partially mobilize Russian men suggests that Russian bureaucrats will similarly struggle to establish governance structures over a resistant and unwilling population in the war zone, Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.”

On Saturday, Ukrainian forces captured the Donetsk city of Lyman, with Russia admitting that its troops had withdrawn “due to the threat of encirclement.”

In response, Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Putin strongman who rules Russia’s Chechnya region, suggested that “low-yield nuclear weapons” should be deployed.

He wrote on the social media platform Telegram: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”

After Friday’s annexation ceremony at Moscow’s Grand Kremlin Palace, Putin insisted that Russia would “protect” its newly claimed lands “with all the forces and means at our disposal.”

Talking to Newsweek Dr. Alan Mendoza, chief executive of the London-based think tank Henry Jackson Society, said: “Putin is trying to end the war with a tangible territorial gain, as he would ultimately struggle politically to survive longer embarrassments on the battlefield.”

In addition to Ukraine’s regular forces, Russia faces party attack in areas of Ukraine under its control, with Russian troops and local collaborators targeted for bombings and shootings.

After the mobilization order videos of apparently drunk Russian conscripts was widely shared on social media.

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