One more time on the question of succession
August 2, 2022
Abbas Gallyamov
Independent political consultant 
In his previous article for Russia.Post, Abbas Gallyamov advised the Russian elites to seriously think about who the next Russian president should be. This time, he recommends that the West start considering a "Marshall Plan" for post-Putin Russia.
Putin with Russia's long-serving minister of defense, Army General Sergey Shoygu, in the Eastern Military District, 2013. Source: Wiki Commons
The Putin regime is unlikely to outlive its creator. It’s important tounderstand that the groups in Putin's circle strongly dislike each other and don’t trust each other. They’re unlikely to agree on a successor and the scope of power due to him. Whomever Putin chooses, thatperson will still be closer to some clans and further from others. At least half will be dissatisfied. 

Within the Russian elite the principle of “winner takes all” reigns, hence to everyone who doesn’t get the throne, it will seem like its new inhabitant is out to get them. To prevent this, they will try to weaken the successor by all means before he solidifies his power.

In addition, the transformation of the regime into a world pariah, which took place after the start of the war, isn’t in line with the interests of Putin's elites at all. In essence, they’re not zealous commissarsready to lay down their lives in battle for a just cause, but rathercynical money changers, who for many years specialized in converting administrative resources into money and subsequently funneling it to the West.

The ideals of North Korean-style total isolation are completely alien to these people, so it is obvious that they themselves will be at the forefront of efforts to normalize the regime as soon as Putin leaves or is sufficiently weakened. Changes in the country are inevitable, sothe entire question is where they eventually will lead. Determining the nature of the future Russian regime should be considered among themost important strategic tasks of the West in the foreseeable future.

Putin's departure will give Russia a chance, and it shouldn’t be missed.
“Russia slipping into the abyss of yet another authoritarianism is in the interests neither of Russians themselves nor the rest of the world community."
Only by preventing this can the world feel at ease. I think that what’s written above has long been obvious to the Western elites, and they’re unlikely to want to just let things run their course, as happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Europe and America will try to oversee the construction of a new Russia as carefully as they did that of post-war Germany. Recall that the Marshall Plan was not the only idea out there and not the first one. It was preceded by the so-called Morgenthau Plan, which envisioned the deindustrialization of Germany and its transformation into the sum of impoverished agricultural territories.

Fortunately for the Germans, and indeed for the rest of the world, pragmatism prevailed over emotions among the victorious Allies, and the negative Morgenthau project was replaced by the positive Marshall Plan. It was decided that the Germans would only be able to become a full-fledged democracy if their standard of living rose during the process of democratization. And so it happened.

I understand that now, when a war is going on in Ukraine and people are dying, arguments about the need to provide multibillion-dollar assistance to the aggressor country seem blasphemous. It seems much more logical to demand compensation for the damage done.

The best that the author can offer in this situation is to take another look at the history of Germany. Burdened with reparations following World War I, the Germans plunged the world into the vortexof a new slaughter. But having received help after World War II, they transformed Germany into one of the most peace-loving countrieson the planet and a stronghold of democracy.

In our case, however, we’re talking not only about the distant future. The draft of a new "Marshall Plan" – formulated as a proposal for a new democratic Russia – would serve as a powerful driver of dissent in the country right now.
“At the moment Russians see enemies around and therefore remain loyal to Putin, who protects them from these enemies."
Goebbels awards 16-year-old Hitler Youth Willi Hübner the Iron Cross for the defence of Lubań in Poland, 1945. Source: Wiki Commons
If they are convinced that the world is not an enemy, they will have no need for Putin.

The leak of the Morgenthau Plan by the press in autumn 1944 did great harm to the Allies’ cause and helped Goebbels in mobilizing the Germans to fight to the end. Looking at what the Americans had in store for them, the Germans became convinced that the Nazi propagandists were right: it really wasn’t about the future of the regime, but the fate of the entire nation.

As perennial Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey remarked:"Now they are fighting with the frenzy of despair”. Meanwhile, President Roosevelt's son-in-law wrote that according to front-line soldiers, the leaked plan was "worth thirty divisions to the Germans.”

Some Russian voters who initially had been against aggression had a change of mind after it began. Currently, they’re motivated by thefeeling that there is no going back: since we started it, we must continue, otherwise they’ll destroy us. The understanding that no one is going to destroy them is capable of turning these people from loyalists into oppositionists. Western governments clearly don’t yet want to directly call for the overthrow of Putin. It’s not necessary. A proposal can be made without it. Suffice to say that assistance will be provided if a democratic regime is established in Russia and a peaceful foreign policy is pursued.
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