Vladimir Putin is getting smaller.
Not the man, of course. He's still the same size, give or take a few kilos. But the "collective Putin" -- that deep inner sanctum of decision making that once comprised dozens of people representing various elite interests -- has clearly been downsized to a handful of close and like minded associates.
The fat-cat oligarchs, the bean-counting financial experts, and the pragmatic technocrats are out. The hardline siloviki and the ideologues are in -- with no check on their ambitions.
This marks a sharp departure from the way Russia has been governed for the past decade, which has been based on broad elite consensus.
And the implications of this are much more wide reaching than the current conflict in Ukraine.
On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, co-host Mark Galeotti and I discuss the withering of Russia's "deep state" and the emergence of what looks like a small ruling cabal. Also on the podcast, Mark and I take a look at the surprising changes in Russia's relations with Belarus.
Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.