Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in the country mobilization. Tatyana Felgenhauer, host of the DW News Show program, talked to political scientist Abbas Gallyamov about the political consequences that could then occur in the country.
DW: What, in your opinion, was the most important in Putin’s speech, in which he announced a “partial” mobilization, and in the statement of Sergei Shoigu that followed it?
Abbas Gallyamov: For me, the most interesting thing was that no new arguments in favor of the need to wage this war sounded. It was all the same that was already voiced more than once, repeated repetition of the words “fascists”, “Nazis”. And this means that the authorities did not present any additional arguments that speak about the benefits of people’s participation in this war. And this means that there will be no turning point in the public mood, old trends will dominate. And the trends were anti-war, very unpleasant for the authorities. That is, now we can safely predict that there will be a mass evasion of mobilization, and a gradually growing wave of protests.
– The decision to introduce mobilization characterizes the Putin regime, quicker, strong side or weak side? It is unlikely that Vladimir Putin is unaware of the risks he is taking. He’s so sure there won’t be any serious consequences, or is it a surge of despair?
– If he believed that there would be no consequences, he would have taken this step a long time ago. He’s been called to this for a long time. Therefore, it is obvious that he is afraid of the consequences. He just found himself in a situation where all other options are even worse. To lose this war for him means an unequivocal political collapse. After that, he will not be able to continue to be president.
Therefore, he decided to take a risk, I think, in the hope not even so much of the military aspect, not that these recruits will now help him defeat the Ukrainians on the battlefield. I think, in fact, he does not really believe in this prospect. If you haven’t managed so far, then why suddenly cope with the help of some more cannon fodder?
I think he is more looking forward to impressing Ukraine with his determination and willingness to escalate. His problem is that the Ukrainians do not want to sit down at the negotiating table. He mentioned this twice last week: in a conversation with Indian Prime Minister Modi and in a conversation with Turkish President Erdogan. He said he was ready to stop everything immediately, and complained that the Ukrainians were refusing to negotiate with him.
Therefore, he demonstrates his determination and willingness to raise the stakes. He seems to be leading the Ukrainians to the idea that he will continue to use nuclear weapons as well. I think that he now most of all counts on the fact that the Ukrainians, seeing his willingness to take risks, will say to themselves: “Okay, to hell with him, he’s crazy, so it’s better to sit down and negotiate with him. Let’s not bring him to sin.” Here is his calculation.
– In previous months, we discussed the reaction of the Russian elites many times and said that the citizens of the Russian Federation not active participants in what is happening. Does the announcement of the mobilization of Russian citizens make them so? Perhaps now we need to look not at how the elites will behave, especially since they didn’t show anything special, but at what will happen in the cities of the Russian Federation?
– I predict a serious surge of protests. Previously, people, even those who were protesting, did not protest because they were afraid, relatively speaking, to get hit on the head with a stick from riot police or even sit down. On the one hand, they had a sofa, and on the other, an riot policeman’s stick. And they chose between them. Now the choice has changed. Now, instead of a sofa, excuse me, a trench in Ukraine and the prospect of being burned by HIMERS are just ashes.
And in this sense, the stick of the riot police is no longer so terrible, compared with the prospect of being at the front. Many can decide now, they say, to hell with him, I’ll go, I’ll take a chance, I’ll fight with the riot police, even if I sit down, I’ll be more alive. Therefore, now the alignment is completely changing and protest moods will intensify at times. And where protests are on the risephysical protest may well flare up.
– If return to sentiments among the elites: for them what–has it changed?
– In itself, Putin’s decision (on mobilization. – Ed.) is not fateful for them. They are now closely watching the consequences. And if they see that the people take to the streets, that the mobilization breaks down, that the people refuse to go, protest en masse, riot, burns the military registration and enlistment officesthen, of course, they will have more determination.
Then they will have a clear understanding that Putin has completely destroyed his own social base, and he most likely will not be able to be re-elected in 2024. And if he can, then at the cost of big risks. That is, there will be a risk of an “orange revolution” and the entire system may collapse. And they will understand that they need to take care of saving the system themselves – there is no hope for Putin in this sense. And then, I think, they can start putting the issue of a successor on the agenda.
– And who can become a successor against the backdrop of all that is happening? Obviously, they will try to push the security forces away.
– The security forces in their purest form have little chance. First, they completely discredited themselves. After all, what is a successor for? In order to reduce the burden on the system, so that the West would start negotiations with him, so that the liberals would not take to the streets, the opposition did not protest. And the security officer in this sense is no better than Putin. They will also protest against him. And the West will not talk to him in the same way and will put pressure on him in the same way.
And if Putin is removed, then someone much more acceptable to opponents of the regime should appear instead of him. Someone who has little to do with this recent military-patriotic hysteria. For example, Sobyanin, Kozak, Kudrin, Gref, Mishustin. There are people. Actually, a lot of people.