Putin’s Achilles Heel: Lowly Maintenance Contracts

Max Can't Help It!
3 min readMar 14, 2022

The Russian Government and Military was not prepared for Putin’s gambit. Or certainly not prepared for the worst-case scenario. Now that it’s here, they need time to agree on a new government once Putin is removed. They’re in a race against time. They have to weigh the advantage of taking him out soon, which would end the war, with the disadvantage of risking a total collapse of their Government afterwards.

Some say Putin will remain in power for years to come. I don’t believe that’s possible because of how global certificate and insurance agencies work.

The oligarch super-yachts which are being seized make for splashy news articles, but they are the tip of the iceberg.

Even if they aren’t seized, they are losing their certifications of sea-worthiness and insurance. That means they are unable to enter almost any desirable port in the world. No one buys a yacht to keep it moored in Vladivostok, Russia.

Does Putin care if the public-figure oligarch lose their yachts? No. He can create new oligarchs with Russia’s natural resources. Keep in mind that when an oligarch challenged him politically, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, he ended up in prison for 10 years. The other oligarchs got the message. You are replaceable.

It’s below the waterline that Putin will be sunk.

The problem he faces are all the super rich Russians working for him within the Russian government. They too have yachts. Not ostentatious ships like the oligarchs, but large and status-conferring nonetheless. They also have airplanes, which face similar problems.

And what they especially love are their properties in the UK, Europe and U.S.!

If one believes the U.S. is weak for not sending troops in to fight Russia, they should survey Russians for how much financial losses they’re prepared to sacrifice for denazification.

I don’t see any of them interested in losing the ability to fly to Europe on a modern Airbus or Boeing airliner.

Unless Putin is removed from power the West will not certify or insure any Russian boat, plane or rocket engine. Put yourself in the position of a Russian bureaucrat facing life without travel to Europe. Facing life flying around on aging and decrepit Russian airplanes from the Soviet era.

The joke will be, you can fly anywhere, as long it’s between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

In order for anyone within Russia’s government to support Putin they would have to agree to a life behind, not an iron curtain, but a self-imposed spite-wall. Even Russian hawks, who pound their fists over NATO expansion, don’t worry about a NATO invasion.

If Putin isn’t removed soon, Russia will once again have to wait a decade to get access to foreign capital. Not easy to borrow money to buy replacement ships or planes without that (most of their airplanes are leased — think about that!).

Anyway, Russians in the Kremlin understand this. Even before the invasion, I believe many of them wanted to get out of Donbas to lift the sanctions.

For them, Putin has been dragging Russia down, businesswise, since 2014.

You might believe time is not an issue. That the planes and boats can be recertified next year. Sorry, that’s not how it works. Do you want a Russian plane flying overhead that may have had a hose replaced with a straw on March 7th?

Everyone with power within Russia understands what it means to lose access to Europe. Russia is not going back to Soviet times. Indeed, as horrible as the war is, my hope is that something good with come out of this, a more liberal and free Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

The lowly maintenance contract may end up as powerful as that!