Putin’s mobilization could be the end of his regime – DW – 09/22/2022

Protests in Moscow against Putin's mobilization decree
Protests in Moscow against Putin’s mobilization decreePhoto: Reuters Photographer/REUTERS

The liberation by Ukrainian troops of the previously Russian-occupied regions of the Kharkiv region created such a serious threat to the entire Russian front that Putin had to urgently announce mobilization. The reason for Putin’s growing military problems is known: there are not enough soldiers, that same “cannon fodder”. If he does not urgently reinforce his army with tens of thousands of recruits, the front will collapse under the blows of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the NVO and will end with the loss of control even in those territories that the President of the Russian Federation has long considered his own: over Donetsk, Lugansk and even Crimea. Such a military catastrophe could be the end of the Putin regime: no amount of propaganda can explain or justify the fact that Russia obviously lost the war.

DW Commentarbild Fyodor Krasheninnikov
Photo: DW/P. Ball

The widely publicized trips of recruiters to prisons are the other side of the failure of the recruitment of Russian citizens. And this failure testifies, first of all, to the fact that mass active support for the actions of the authorities or complete trust in propaganda is now out of the question, otherwise, from the first days of the war, there would have been queues of people wishing to go to the front at the military registration and enlistment offices.

War – in every house

Over these months, the question has been raised many times why no one in Russia is concerned about the deaths of thousands of soldiers in the war in Ukraine. They often recalled the Chechen war and the activity of soldiers’ mothers then and asked why it is not there now. The answer is simple: while those who went there voluntarily fought and died at the front, there was no one to mourn them, often even in their immediate environment – mostly a very specific contingent was recruited into the army.

For most Russians, the war remained something distant and more like a long-running TV show. Someone is fighting somewhere, “ours” are constantly winning and advancing, and all that is required of the layman is to say every time that Putin is doing everything right or, in extreme cases, that everything is not so clear.

And now Putin himself has changed the situation. Now those who believed that the victory was almost won, and those who were not at all interested in the war, and those who were against it in one way or another, will go to fight and die – no one will ask anyone’s desire anymore. War will come to every home.

Mobilization protests

More than 1,300 participants were detained in Russia on the first day of mobilization protest actions. Some of them received subpoenas right in the office. Of course, this is still too little to stop the war. And, most likely, those who have long decided everything for themselves both about the war and about Putin are coming out to protest even now.

It should be noted that mobilization not only provides new reasons for protests, but also opens up new opportunities for intimidating dissent. First, the very prospect of being seen by the authorities by participating in protests is especially unattractive now, when it is more rational to hide from the authorities in order not to please the front.

Secondly, mobilization is a good reason to put on stream the isolation of activists objectionable to the authorities, protesters and just young people, locking them in barracks, away from big cities. It has long been known that in the Russian army you can spend your entire service life without ever taking up arms. All this must be taken into account when assessing the current scale and results of the protests in Russia.

Putin violated an unspoken pact with Russians loyal to him

But still, when will the horror of what is happening reach, if not all, then at least the majority of the active part of the population? And will it come?

History teaches that it will most likely come – but not in the coming days and weeks. Only in a month or a month and a half, when tens of thousands of called-up inhabitants will already be at the front, the whole horror of the new situation will become obvious to them, and to their families, and to everyone else.

Even the most loyal citizens of Russia will find that Putin has unilaterally violated the unspoken pact with them that has kept him in power for 20 years: you do not engage in politics, and power does not touch you. The townsfolk who diligently did not engage in politics, dutifully went to the polls, believed the tales of propaganda, despising those who disagree, will find themselves deceived and punished for their faith in Putin and in Putin. Moreover, many of the most loyal to Putin will turn out to be cripples, orphans, widows, and someone will die altogether – and this will be the point at which faith in Putin will end for each of them.

Putin went for broke. He staked everything on the fact that, by calling hundreds of thousands of Russians to the front, he would quickly end the war, defeat Ukraine, and thereby “nullify” all the questions and doubts accumulated among the population. He does not want to see another scenario.

Meanwhile, another option is much more realistic: Ukraine, supported by the whole world, will stand and continue to fight and win, while in Russia there will be only endless mobilization, a stream of “funerals” from the front, the seizure of personal vehicles for the needs of the army, the hunt for “evaders” and “deserters”, weeping mothers, wives, children – and so many months, without light and hope. Until the front-line soldiers, deserters, deviationists, widows, orphans and mothers who have lost their sons, tired of the war and defeats, take to the streets. And now there will be no one to disperse them.

By the way, this is how the reign of Nicholas II ended in 1917.

Author: Fedor Krasheninnikov – Russian political scientist and publicist, was forced to leave Russia in 2020. Telegram: @fyodork

The comment expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian editorial board and Deutsche Welle generally.

See also:

Mobilization experts: ‘It’s a sign of Putin’s weakness’

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