Vladimir Putin calls 300,000 men to arms. It’s a pivotal moment for the President. Because now it shows how great the support for him and his war in Russia is. The first impression does not speak for Putin.
Elisabeth Braw, research associate at the American think tank American Enterprise Institute, is certain: mobilizations are crucial moments in wars. Because, as Braw writes in a recent essay, this moment shows how much support there is for a head of state and his war.
“Mobilization in Russia is currently not going smoothly,” writes Braw. Immediately after Vladimir Putin announced that he would call up 300,000 reservists, many Russian men tried to leave the country. And that’s not surprising, writes the scientist.
There are good reasons for the Russians to flee this war. First of all, war is always cruel. But Putin’s problem is much bigger than this mere fact. By fleeing, Russia’s men are demonstrating that they don’t believe in three things, says Braw.
1. They do not believe that this mobilization will remain only a partial mobilization
The Russians are “perceptive,” says Braw. She quotes Swedish defense expert Gudrun Persson: “The Russians cannot be sure that things will stay the way they are now. So far, the regime has tried to recruit volunteers. That didn `t work. That’s why they’re mobilizing now.” In his speech, Putin did not specify exactly what “partial mobilization” means, Persson said. “It’s a mobilization. Point! The third in Russian history.”
In addition, eyewitness reports from Russia have so far indicated that significantly more than the specified 300,000 men may be conscripted. The newspaper Novaja Gazeta Europe recently put the figure of one million into play.
2. They don’t believe in this war
In many reports from Russia, men who do not believe in the success stories of Russian propaganda are currently having their say. “I don’t want to go to war” is a frequently heard sentence these days.
Expert Braw also writes that many Russians do not believe in this war. She quotes military expert Katarzyna Zysk: “So far, the greatest danger for Russian recruits has been dying during exercises. Or the bad conditions in the army. But now, on top of that, there is a high risk of ending up as cannon fodder after a call-up.”
One thing is clear: After it was primarily the minorities in Ukraine who fought and had to accept high losses, the war with partial mobilization is now reaching all Russians.
3. They no longer believe in their government
And that also shows what many Russians really think of their president and their government.
“Every successful enlistment or mobilization begins with respect for the citizens who are to be turned into soldiers,” writes Braw. But in that war, many Russians were simply enlisted to fight against the neighboring country. Few volunteered. And now Suddenly, men who never wanted to go to war are being conscripted, penalties for desertion are being tightened, and wartime commanders are forbidden by Putin from retiring if defeat is imminent.
Many experts are of the opinion that the reservists who are now called up will be poorly trained. In addition, the equipment of the soldiers who are already fighting is miserable. All of this together, according to Braw, reduces military clout. As a result, the reservists would either not fight at all or not do their best.
And this also sends a devastating signal for Putin. Braw writes: “The Russians are showing that they do not believe in this war. And thus not in Putin’s power. And then he’s in trouble.”
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