The Purge of Russia's Defense Ministry Spreads

Sergei Guneyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russian FSB agents have arrested the general in charge of communications for the Russian General Staff on fraud charges. Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin, who commands the organization responsible for military communications, including ensuring confidential battlefield command signals, was arrested Thursday for taking what was only described as a "particularly large bribe." Given the scale of corruption inside the Russian Defense Ministry, it shows incredible energy to achieve this level of notice.


Shamarin's arrest rounds out a week that has seen the sacking of yet another deputy defense minister, the arrest of two other generals, and the firing of a third.


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On Monday, Vladimir Putin dismissed Colonel General Yuri Sadovenko from his post as Deputy Defense Minister and replaced him with Oleg Saveliev, a former aide to Shoigu's replacement, Andrei Belousov. Saveliev was most recently in charge of auditing the defense ministry. This would seem to further solidify Belousov's control of the Defense Ministry.


Hours after Shamarin's arrest, Vladimir Verteletsky, a senior defense procurement apparatchik, was also arrested on corruption charges.

Perhaps related to this was the arrest of Major General Ivan Popov, widely considered to have been one of the few competent general officers produced by Russia in the Ukraine War. He's charged with "suspicion of fraud," which may or may not be true. Many observers see this as Putin ensuring his military commanders are politically reliable (see OAS and 1st REP).

And thrown in with that is a wildcard announced today. Deputy Head of the Main Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service for the Moscow Region, Vladimir Talaev, was arrested on corruption charges.


I don't see the connection between the Defense Ministry and the prison service, but too many senior people are arrested in one week for one not to suspect a connection.

To round off the list is another possibly related, possibly unrelated firing. Major General Skhrab Akmedov, commander of the 20th Combined Arms Army, has been relieved.

The 20th CAA is in the Kreminna-Svatove area of Luhansk Oblast, and Akhmedov is most famous for his defeat at Vuhledar and for having one of his battalions slaughtered by a Ukrainian HIMARS attack as it stood in formation awaiting his arrival to give a motivational speech.


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Maybe it was corruption, or perhaps he crossed a line of stupidity and incompetence that even the Russian Army couldn't countenance, and the Black Chinook finally arrived. I'm sure he'll surface again in a few months.


I've frequently cited this Churchill quote about Kremlin purges, “Kremlin political intrigues are comparable to a bulldog fight under a rug. An outsider only hears the growling, and when he sees the bones fly out from beneath, it is obvious who won.” 

We're starting to see some bones thrown out, but we aren't really sure what they mean. From all signs, the purge is gaining velocity.


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