Russia and Ukraine: who Putin consults before making important decisions?

 Russia and Ukraine: who Putin consults before making important decisions?

Over the past few weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made important decisions that will have long-term consequences not only for Ukraine and Russia but also for the whole world.

Who were the people with whom Putin consulted when making these decisions, it was the militaristic tone of Moscow, caused by the strong influence of the so-called "siloviki" group, which includes a number of ministers and heads of law enforcement agencies, according to some analysts

Russia can be called a Republic of Super-Presidents, President Putin has all the powers, and all the main decisions related to the governance of the state are ultimately subordinated to his personal decision.

But despite all these broad powers, he consults with the people around him, especially those who are his long-time colleagues, whom he trusts very much. This department includes a group of civil servants who have worked in law enforcement agencies and, in particular, have a loud voice.

There are several agencies in Russia that deal with security and law enforcement agencies and are known as the Siloviki group.

Vladimir Putin began his career in one of these agencies, namely the former Soviet intelligence service KGB, which began its post-Soviet career as the Federal Security Service of Russia FSB.

The influence of the Siloviki group has increased since Putin came to power.

The Big Five

Most decisions on Russia's foreign and domestic policy are made at meetings of the National Security Council of Russia.

This council consists of thirty members, these are the most important elements of the "siloviki" grouping, including the heads of foreign intelligence and the FSB, the Ministers of Internal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and defense, as well as the Prime Minister and speakers of both houses of Parliament.

Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary General of the Russian National Security Council, Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB, and Sergey Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, have known Russian President Vladimir Putin for several years. They served with him in St. Petersburg, then known as Leningrad, in the seventies of the last century.

In addition to the three previous names, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complement the quintet that would be closest to Vladimir Putin, whose opinion the Russian president greatly values when it comes to making foreign policy decisions.

Nikolai Patrushev

Nikolai Patrushev holds the post of Secretary General of the Russian National Security Council, headed by Putin, and is the "main hawk" in the president's team. Patrushev and Putin worked in the KGB in the seventies of the last century.

In 1999, Patrushev replaced Putin as head of Russia's Federal Security Service, the FSB - the successor to the KGB - and remained in this post until 2008. They say that he is one of the closest people to Putin, listening to him more than anyone else.

Sergey Shoigu

Putin's closest friend and adviser may actually be Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister who also heads the Russian military intelligence agency, whose employees were accused of poisoning former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in the UK in 2018, as well as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Siberia in 2020.

Sources report that in the 90s of the last century, good relations were established between Shoigu and Putin, but since the beginning of the new century, the two have become close friends and found a common language, and also, as a rule, go on vacation to Siberia, Siberia. hometown of the Minister of Defense.

Alexander Bortnikov

Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service of Russia FSB, served together with Vladimir Putin in the KGB Directorate in Leningrad, he took over the post of chairman of the Federal Security Service of Russia in 2008, replacing Patrushev. He is a counterintelligence agent with many years of experience.

Insiders say the Russian president is more inclined to believe the intelligence reports he receives from the FSB than from any other source.

This body exerts influence on law enforcement agencies, such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor's Office.

This corps has its own special forces, among which there are elite Alpha detachments and Vimpel groups.

Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is on the opposite side of Bortnikov in terms of brutality. He is one of the most experienced Russian diplomats, he has been the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry since 2004, which is, almost two decades. And although he did not study and did not work with Putin in law enforcement agencies, the Russian president is said to have great respect for Lavrov.

Lavrov is not among Putin's circle of friends, but he has earned the respect of the president thanks to his professionalism, hard work, and lack of mistakes during his long career.

Sergey Naryshkin

The head of foreign intelligence, Sergei Naryshkin, like Bortnikov and Patrushev, served with Vladimir Putin in Leningrad.

And although he is the head of intelligence, he is a relatively public official, having given interviews to numerous media outlets, including BBC correspondent Steve Rosenberg.

Those who personally know Naryshkin say that he is devoted to Putin and disciplined by nature used to obeying orders and obeying the line outlined for him. His track record in the field of security, sharp intelligence, and professional experience helped him enter Putin's inner circle, and Vladimir Putin will rely on intelligence memos provided by the Naryshkin agency.

The National Security Council of Russia: a place of decision-making

A recent meeting of the Russian National Security Council, which discussed the recognition of two separatist-controlled "republics" in eastern Ukraine, gave an idea of the dynamics of the Council's work.

Sarah Rainsford, the BBC's Eastern Europe correspondent, described the meeting as a theatrical production in which everyone had their own role and a specific script.

The Russian government's top brass "sat uncomfortably in a semicircle" as she described it, "until Vladimir Putin one by one urged them to come to the microphone and tell him what he wanted to hear."

Other analysts were of the opinion that complex group dynamics come into play, despite the fact that this is a Byzantine maze of personal politics.

"We must understand that the Security Council is a gathering of people who are not friends, they are likely to conflict with each other," says Alexander Baunov, an expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

"Everything they said - at the Security Council meeting - was not just an expression of what they think, but also their attempt not to lose to Putin in this game of competent authorities," he continued.

The meeting demonstrated how much Vladimir Putin personally controls the members of the National Security Council, how he can publicly scold them or make scenes for them, and the fact that they have been friends for a long time gives little protection.

Despite being a longtime colleague - and possibly a personal friend - foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin was severely reprimanded by Putin for "not speaking clearly" when he suggested giving "Western partners another chance" before rebel-held territories were captured. were not recognized.

This clearly annoyed Putin, so he demanded that Naryshkin demonstrate his support for an immediate confession in the end, to which the head of intelligence agreed, and he looked very upset.

Mark Galeotti of the Royal Institute for Security and Defence Studies of the United Services wrote on Twitter:، :

"Naryshkin experienced the worst, and because of his uncertainty, Putin terrified him.

The scene clearly showed that he was the boss' servant, not his friend. Considering that he has been one of the most outspoken public commentators lately, it also showed that you have not received praise for your services before," he said.

It should be noted that other members of the Security Council did not experience the same degree of embarrassment as Naryshkin.

Only the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs and the head of the FSB Bortnikov were invited twice to speak at a meeting of the powerful council of thirty people.

Lavrov expressed support for the continuation of diplomatic efforts, while Shoigu and Bortnikov were more categorical and insisted on recognizing pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The meeting was also exceptional because it was broadcast on Russian state television, and the Security Council usually meets in secret. It was assumed that the show would be broadcast live, although doubts were expressed about the veracity of this statement. F

After taking a closer look at the video, the observers noticed that the opinions of some of those present at the meeting did not coincide with the time of the broadcast.

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