By announcing the mobilization, Putin took a big step towards a break with those Russians on whose loyalty his government has relied all these years, according to Russian political scientist Fedor Krasheninnikov.
The liberation by Ukrainian troops of the districts of the Kharkiv region previously occupied by Russia posed 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, the same “cannon fodder”. If he does not urgently strengthen his army with tens of thousands of new recruits, the front will collapse under the blows of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the “SVO” will end up losing control even in those territories that the president of the Russian Federation has long considered his own: over Donetsk, Luhansk and even Crimea. Such a military disaster could be the end of Putin’s regime: no amount of propaganda will be able to explain or justify the fact that Russia clearly lost the war.
The widely publicized trips of recruiters to prisons are the flip side of the failure of recruiting Russian citizens. And this failure shows, first of all, that there is no question of mass active support for the actions of the authorities or complete trust in propaganda, otherwise there would be queues of people willing to go to the front at the military commissars from the first days of the war, according to Russian political scientist Fedir Krasheninnikov.
War is in every house
Over these months, the question has been raised many times why no one in Russia is concerned about the death of thousands of soldiers in the war in Ukraine. They often mentioned the Chechen war and the activism of soldiers’ mothers then and asked why it is not there now. The answer is simple: while those who went there voluntarily were fighting and dying at the front, there was no one to mourn them, often even in their closest circle – mainly a very specific contingent was recruited into the army.
For most Russians, the war remained something distant and more like an ongoing TV show. Someone somewhere is fighting, “our” are constantly winning and advancing, and all that is required from the common man is to say in each case that Putin is doing everything right or, in the last resort, that everything is not so clear-cut.
And Putin himself changed the situation. Now those who believed that 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 for anything more. War will come to every house.
On the first day of mobilization in Russia, more than 1,300 participants of protest actions were detained. Some of them received summons right at the station. Of course, this is still not enough to stop the war. And, most likely, even now, those who have already decided everything for themselves regarding the war and Putin are coming to the protests.
It should be noted that mobilization not only provides new reasons for protests, but also opens up new opportunities for intimidating those who disagree. First of all, the very prospect of getting noticed 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 get to the front.
Secondly, mobilization is a good opportunity to set in motion the isolation of activists, protest participants and simply young people who disagree with the authorities, locking them up in barracks, away from big cities. It has been known for a long time: you can spend your entire service life in the Russian army without ever picking up a weapon. All this must be taken into account when evaluating the current scale and results of protests in Russia.
Putin broke an unspoken pact with Russians loyal to him
But still, when the horror of what is happening will 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 half, when tens of thousands of called-up commoners will already be at the front, all the horror of the new state will become obvious to them, and to their families, and to the rest.
Even the most loyal citizens of Russia will find that Putin has unilaterally broken with them the unspoken pact on which his power was based for 20 years: you do not engage in politics, and the government does not touch you. Citizens who diligently did not engage in politics, meekly went to the polls, believed propaganda fables, despised those who disagreed, will find themselves deceived and punished for their faith in Putin and Putin. Moreover, many of those most loyal to Putin will turn out to be cripples, orphans, widows, and some will die altogether – and this will be the point at which faith in Putin will end for each of them.
Putin went all in. He bet everything on the fact that, having called hundreds of thousands of Russians to the front, he would quickly end the war, defeat Ukraine and thereby “reset to zero” all the questions and doubts that had accumulated among the population. He does not want to see another version of the development of events.
Meanwhile, another option is much more realistic: Ukraine, which is supported by the whole world, will endure and continue to fight and win, and in Russia there will be only endless mobilization, a stream of “funerals” from the front.