Tom Arms’ World Review

Putin’s hold on power

Vladimir Putin’s hold on power must be slipping away. But which Kremlin insider might replace him? Well, according to the constitution, the Prime minister – who is Mikhail Mishustin – is meant to succeed the president if he has to suddenly resign or is incapacitated. Mishustin has been responsible for the dealing with the economy which is reeling from sanctions. He has done a reasonable job and is in the front rank of successors, but not regarded as a number one possibility.

That could be Nikolai Patrushev, former head of Russian intelligence organisation the FSB. He is known to be a hard-line ultranationalist. Another hardliner is Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov who has been publicly urging the Russian president to use tactical nuclear weapons. Also in the running is Mikhail Mizintsev, another hardliner who is known as the “butcher of Mariupol” and has recently been brought back from the front to be Deputy Minister of Defense. Dmitry Medvedev kept the presidential chair warm for four years from 2008 while Putin sorted out the constitution. He is another possible and recently warned that Putin “is not bluffing” about nuclear weapons. There are several more potential usurpers in the Kremlin wings. At the moment they all have one thing in common—they are ultra-nationalist right-wingers committed to the war in Ukraine.


Public protests involving banners, smoke and loud hailers are rare in China. They are virtually unheard of on the eve of a Chinese Communist Party Congress. The reason is that they can be life-threatening for the protesters.

But that did not stop two brave souls from unfurling banners from an overpass. One read: “Let us strike from schools and from work and remove the dictator Xi Jinping.” The other focused on Xi’s unpopular Zero Covid strategy and said: “No restrictions. We want freedom. No Lies. We want dignity.” The protesters were quickly surrounded by police and carted off, but videos quickly made it onto social media. China’s censors meant they were just as quickly erased from the local internet, but not before they could be reposted for the rest of the world to see. The protests are a huge embarrassment for Xi who is expected to be confirmed as president for a third term by the 2,500 delegates gathering in Beijing on Sunday. The fact that the men were willing to risk – quite possibly sacrifice – their lives for their protest indicates the depth of opposition to Xi Jinping.

Donald Trump

It is beginning to look as if ex-president Donald Trump may indeed spend some time behind bars. The congressional committee investigating the 6 January Capitol Hill Riots have voted unanimously to subpoena Trump to testify before the committee. He has indicated that he will refuse to participate in what he calls a “witch hunt” and “political farce”. If he sticks to that position then he can be charged with contempt of Congress which, if he is found guilty, carries a two year prison sentence.

This does not mean, however, that Trump would be prevented from running for president in 2024. There is nothing in the US constitution that bars a convicted felon from standing for the presidency. In fact, there is a legal precedent that allows it. In 1920 Socialist Eugene Debs campaigned from a prison cell. He had been sentenced to ten years behind bars under the terms of the Sedition Act after he campaigned against US participation in the First World War. Debs garnered only 3.4 percent of the vote. A martyred Trump would do much better.

Iran’s hijab protests

Iran’s hijab protests are not stopping. In fact they are gathering steam and spreading. There are reports that Kurdish ethnic communities in Northwest Iran are now rioting and that oil workers are striking in oil terminals at Abadan. Meanwhile the women are continuing to lead protests in cities across Iran. They are being arrested and some are dying.

These are not the first riots against the Mullahs. In 2009, millions took to the streets to protest the results of the presidential elections. Then in 2017 and 2019 economic hardships triggered another round of riots. But in those instances the protests petered out after a week or two. The current violence has been going on for a month and is growing. Iranian sociologist Hosein Ghazian, said “the rioters see no prospect for a better future and that gives them courage.”

International Monetary Fund

It can only get worse. That was the gloomy assessment of the International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook published this week. World growth is forecast to be 2.7 percent this year, down from 2.9 percent. There are three reasons: high US interest rates; food and energy shortages caused by the Ukraine war and China’s zero Covid strategy.

The US economy is expected grow by 1.6 percent this year and just one percent in 2023. The EU will grow by 0.5 per cent in 2022. Both the German and Italian economies are forecast to contract. Meanwhile, Britain’s ship of state appears to remain rudderless. Prime Minister Liz Truss attempted to steady the markets and the pound by sacking Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng and cancelling a proposed cut in corporation tax. But before she had finished her eight minute press conference to announce the U-turn, the pound had fallen another 1.2 percent against the dollar.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopaedia of the Cold War” and “America Made in Britain". To subscribe to his email alerts on world affairs click here.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Hard line ultra-nationalists in Russia seems to be a euphemism for psychopathic gangsters of the same ilk that made up the regime in Germany’s Third Reich. The competition to succeed Putin appears to be based around who is willing to be the most violent and ruthless in both suppressing the rights of the Russian people and prosecuting a genocidal war in Ukraine.
    The conflict hangs in the balance as winter approaches and 300,000 more mobilized Russian troops are thrown into the battle.
    Last week’s missile attacks on Ukraine are reminiscent of Hitlers last gasp effort to bomb Britain into submission. The Iranian drones deployed look quite similar to the V1 rockets that were sent across the Channel in the latter stages of WW2 and the cruise missiles a modern version of the V2 rockets that were launched from Germany at the end of the war.
    The Russian attempt at a land grab in Ukraine has made it crystal clear why so many East European states sought membership of Nato after the collapse of the USSR and why both Ukraine and Georgia are so keen to join the defensive alliance.

  • Hard hitting opinion piece by Simon Tisdall in the Guardian calling for expulsion of all Russian diplomats from Western capitals Putin’s lying diplomats make excuses for terror in Ukraine. Expel them all

  • Chris Moore 17th Oct '22 - 8:46am

    My own view is that we are better off with the devil we know.

    Long live Vlad Putin!

    Little chance of Kadryov as leader, btw. He doesn’t have a significant support base in the FSB circles, where it matters.

  • From the article, “Vladimir Putin’s hold on power must be slipping away.”

    An important statement if correct, but it would be better for being evidenced. In fact, I would be very surprised if it is correct since, despite all reports to the contrary in the MSM, Russia is winning handsomely.

    Consider how we got here. Over the last 7 years ‘The West’ (mainly the US assisted by the UK) has trained and equipped a Ukrainian army of ~600,000, the largest in NATO the US excepted.

    Since February, a much smaller force comprised mainly of Donbas self-defence militias plus Wagner Group and Chechen volunteers supported by Russian specialist units (eg artillery, air force) have basically destroyed the Ukraine’s original 600k army. Meanwhile, the combined West has sent virtually all the arms and ammunition it can spare so the cupboard is bare.

    Now Russia is now mobilising ~300,000 army reservists (ie with recent military service) plus 70,000 volunteers. It has total air superiority backed by the best air defences in the World so can hit Ukrainian forces at will. There is no evidence of shortage of missiles, armour, or ammunition.

    So, Russia is going to win the shooting war. Also the diplomatic one. Many countries are looking forward to a ‘multipolar world order’.

    Back to Putin. He is actually a moderate, so we should hope his power doesn’t “slip away”. Fortunately, I see no evidence that it is, just MSM daydreams.

  • Joseph Bourke 17th Oct '22 - 10:04pm

    The United nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine last month issued its first report concluding:
    “We were struck by a large number of executions and other violations by Russian forces, and the Commission received consistent accounts of torture and ill-treatment.”
    Horrific allegations of sexual violence against Ukrainian communities – including children – were also found to be based in fact.

    “The Commission investigated cases of sexual gender-based violence. It documented cases in which some Russian Federation soldiers made such crime,” said Commissioner Jasminka Džumhur.

    Ukrainian forces were also responsible for human rights violations, said Commissioner Pablo de Greiff: “We have found two instances of ill-treatment of Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian soldiers, and we mentioned this in our statement. We have found obviously significantly larger numbers of instances that amount to war crimes on the part of the Russian Federation.”

    Last week the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s attempts to annex four regions of Ukraine.

    In the 1930s the League of Nations established in the aftermath of the Great War collapsed. It had ceased to be an effective peace-keeping organisation after its failures in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and Italian occupation of Abyssinia. If the United Nations is not to go the same way as the League the Russian Invasion of Ukraine must be faced down by free nations and those responsible for war crimes held to account.

  • Peter Hirst 18th Oct '22 - 4:29pm

    Any signs of protest from China must be encouraging. The dictum Xi Jinping seems to be working on is as long as the country’s standard of living is increasing he can continue to stifle dissent. At some stage this will no longer work as is evidenced by Iran. In China loyalty is to the Party and even Russia shows this cannot be taken for granted.

  • Nigel Quinton 19th Oct '22 - 11:32am

    ‘Gordon’ please identify yourself – we don’t need Putin apologists here. And please don’t insult our intelligence by referencing the article of long time Moscow supporter M. K. Bhadrakumar as being representative of world opinion.

  • Nigel Quinton – “we don’t need Putin apologists here”. Dealing with uncomfortable realities by dismissing their bearer as an ‘apologist’ is to deny open debate, hardly my understanding of what Liberals stand for.

    The very approximate numbers etc. I suggested earlier for Russian and Ukrainian forces were culled from several sources. The fog of war is, as ever, very thick so it’s entirely possible they are wrong. If you believe that is indeed the case, then please provide alternative numbers.

    Equally, if you think the seemingly obvious implication that Russia is on course to win is mistaken for some reason that escapes me, then please explain.

    As for Bhadrakumar, he is indeed just one straw in the wind. India, China and Saudi Arabia (to name just three other countries but all important in one way or another), do seem to lean towards his view more than that of Washington and London. Again, if you think that interpretation is mistaken, please engage.

  • @Gordon. I imagine you get your “facts” from Russian media. The BBC quoted Sir Jeremy Fleming, head of GCHQ as saying “We know – and Russian commanders on the ground know -that their supplies and munitions are running out.” All the evidence is that morale in the Russian regular army has been low so we can only imagine what it will be like when the conscripts get to the front line.
    If the Russians are going to win, why do they seem be struggling to hold the Ukrainian counter offensive in the east ? Your conclusions seem to be at odds with the facts.

  • @ Chris Cory. We got into the Iraq war via the ‘Dodgy Dossier’, WMD scare etc, all served up by GCHQ, M16 etc. The suspicion then was that GCHQ etc saw their job as providing justification rather than intelligence. In the event, WMD proved phantom but no-one in GCHQ etc lost their job, so it seems justification was indeed what was sought.

    So, is this a replay with a different cast or do we think that the US, UK are reformed characters of unimpeachable integrity, and that Putin really is the cartoonishly bad man portrayed by the media? Before answering remember that Boris Johnson was PM throughout the key period.

    Re “facts”, you imagine wrongly. I don’t get them from Russian media which I very rarely see. ‘Facts’ in a war are near useless because both sides distort them; what’s not said is often more important than what is said. Understanding developments relies on piecing together a narrative that makes sense of what we little we do know.

    Clausewitz, the go-to authority on military strategy, wrote that holding territory is vanity, destroying the enemy’s army is what matters. In September, Ukraine had to leave their defensive positions to advance in the east. The Russians retreated in good order with minimal casualties and imposed terrible (but unreported) casualties on the exposed Ukrainians. So, who won?

    Link to a former US marine’s forensic demolition of a recent NYT article.'s-300,000-strong-mobilization:8

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