Is Russia ripe for a coup?

The author then identifies three pre-conditions of a coup, all of which manifestly hold for Putin’s Russia. First, the social and economic conditions of the target country must be such as to confine political participation to a small fraction of the population. Second, the target state must be substantially independent, and the influence of foreign powers in its internal political life must be relatively limited. Finally, the target state must have a political center.

When these conditions are present, as they are in Russia, coups are possible. For a coup to happen, however, its plotters must also control or neutralize the state bureaucracy and its security forces, “while at the same time using [the machinery of state] to impose … control on the country at large.”

Since “the many separate operations of the coup must be carried out almost simultaneously,” Luttwak notes that a large group of people with the requisite training and equipment must be involved. “There will usually be one source of such recruits: the armed forces of the state itself,” by which Luttwak means the army, police, and security services.

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