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Putin’s Partial Ukraine Mobilization Could Mean the End of Russia

T-90 Tank
T-90 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Vladimir Putin’s speech announcing a partial mobilization of Russian reservists contains nothing we haven’t heard before. It’s an exercise in repetition. Thus, the West and its lackey, neo-Nazi Ukraine, forced the war on poor Russia, which had no choice but to defend itself. The West’s aggression continues as neo-Nazi Ukrainians engage in genocide and other atrocities. Naturally, the people support Russia unconditionally and call for Russian support.

“We cannot,” says Putin, the great moralist, “we have no moral right to let our kin and kith be torn to pieces by butchers; we cannot but respond to their sincere striving to decide their destiny on their own.”

Moreover, says Putin, the great strategist, “Today our armed forces, as I have mentioned, are fighting on the line of contact that is over 1,000 kilometres long, fighting not only against neo-Nazi units but actually the entire military machine of the collective West.”

Given Russia’s deep commitment to morality and the determination of the barbarian West to destroy Russia, Putin concludes that “In this situation, I consider it necessary to take the following decision, which is fully adequate to the threats we are facing. More precisely, I find it necessary to support the proposal of the Defence Ministry and the General Staff on partial mobilisation in the Russian Federation to defend our Motherland and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories.”

Putin delivered pretty much the same speech back on February 24, when he announced the “special military operation” that quickly morphed into a disastrous war. He and his minions have been repeating the same tropes since then. Indeed, the terms and arguments haven’t changed since the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Ukraine and Russia’s invasion of Crimea and Donbas.

The rhetoric reveals—yet again—that Putin and his cronies are either living in a parallel reality that contradicts ours in every respect or are consummate liars or both. According to the Kremlin’s playbook, democratic Ukrainians and their Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelensky, are neo-Nazis. The degenerate West wants to destroy Russia and has always wanted to destroy Russia. In contrast, the Russian state cares only about the good of the people and had to defend itself against neo-Nazi predations.

Anybody with a minimal understanding of the Putin regime and contemporary Ukraine will quickly see through these bizarre assertions and recognize them for what they are: the delusionary ravings of a manipulative dictator who believes that he constructs reality.

The sad thing is that Putin probably knows that his audience—the average middle-aged Russian males who adore him—will believe such a claptrap. The good news is that there are important signs of growing disbelief among many, especially younger male, Russians, who know that they, and not their elders, will be called upon to fight and die in Ukraine in a war that makes no sense. They also know that the Russian army has been battered and that Russia is losing.

Will the reservists rally to the flag and lay their lives for a mad dictator, or will they succumb to common sense and do everything possible to avoid certain death?

The Kremlin appears to know that the latter option is increasingly likely. The Russian parliament just passed a bill increasing penalties for desertion, voluntary surrender, insubordination, and damage to military property. Clearly, as Ukrainian sources regularly confirm, such behaviors must be increasingly common for the Duma to adopt such harsh measures. Moderate oppositionists have begun calling for the people to take to the streets; radical oppositionists are calling for the firebombing of draft boards. Underground resistance movements are destroying rail tracks and other infrastructure. Scores of municipal officials throughout Russia have publicly called for Putin’s removal. The famous singer Alla Pugacheva has openly criticized the war and the regime.

Putin

Russian President Putin addressing the nation.

The writing is on the wall. The smart money should bet on the failure of Putin’s mobilization and the galvanization of opposition. Revolutions often start when regimes do something egregiously brutal or stupid. The mobilization decreed by Putin may be the spark that sets off a political and social conflagration and ends the regime—and, possibly, Russia.

Expert Biography: Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Alexander Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers-Newark. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia, and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires, and theory, he is the author of 10 books of nonfiction, including Pidsumky imperii (2009); Puti imperii (2004); Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires (2001); Revolutions, Nations, Empires: Conceptual Limits and Theoretical Possibilities (1999); Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after Totalitarianism (1993); and The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929 (1980); the editor of 15 volumes, including The Encyclopedia of Nationalism (2000) and The Holodomor Reader (2012); and a contributor of dozens of articles to academic and policy journals, newspaper op-ed pages, and magazines. He also has a weekly blog, “Ukraine’s Orange Blues.”

Written By

Dr. Alexander Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers-Newark. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia, and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires, and theory, he is the author of 10 books of nonfiction, including Pidsumky imperii (2009); Puti imperii (2004); Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires (2001); Revolutions, Nations, Empires: Conceptual Limits and Theoretical Possibilities (1999); Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after Totalitarianism (1993); and The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929 (1980); the editor of 15 volumes, including The Encyclopedia of Nationalism (2000) and The Holodomor Reader (2012); and a contributor of dozens of articles to academic and policy journals, newspaper op-ed pages, and magazines. He also has a weekly blog, “Ukraine’s Orange Blues.”

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Goran

    September 21, 2022 at 11:06 am

    Ukrainians are being trained continuously across Ukraine and the West and they will be able to at least match whatever number of soldiers Putin throws at them. The question is how will he offset his losses in equipment?

  2. Agrajag

    September 21, 2022 at 11:30 am

    The belief that Russia can adequately feed, clothe, and arm an extra 100-150 thousand troops in Ukraine in the middle of winter is simply mindboggling.

    The idea that these same troops will be a highly motivated and effective fighting force is simply laughable.

  3. Dr. Scooter Van Neuter

    September 21, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    The desperate actions of a declining despot. Let’s pray God removes him before he sets the entire world on fire.

  4. Andrew Nutter

    September 21, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    Dr Motyl, Excellent article. Thank you for your insight. Question: What is the possibility of an alliance of Eastern European, former soviet republics? I think this is the best deterrence to continued Russian aggression. Create a wall along the Russian western front and let Putin go back to being the gas station attendant that he is. Thanks, Andrew

  5. Froike

    September 21, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    Dr. Scooter….Big Amen to that!

  6. GhostTomahawk

    September 21, 2022 at 5:18 pm

    Devils advocate

    What if Putin is right? Is not like the west hasn’t been pressuring Russia by arming former soviet nations with missile defense systems pointed at Russia since the wall fell…. all despite the rhetoric from the US of wanting to forge friendly relations with Russia.

    What would you do if a neighbor down the street started arming your immediate neighbors telling them you’re a threat and all them pointed their guns at your house?

    How many decades would you be down for that?

    If it were me and I were Russia I would’ve already beat Ukraine and then punched a few weak NATO countries and laughed as NATO cowered like the whining fools they are. All the while my subs sat waiting for US troop and equipment ships to mobilize to europe and sunk them.

    With this kind of bungling you have to wonder what is the real game afoot.

  7. Matt

    September 21, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    Well Tomahawk middle defense is not a weapon. It’s a defensive shield.

  8. Jacksonian Libertarian

    September 21, 2022 at 6:07 pm

    Even if Russia does mobilize more men, what is it going to arm them with? It is already scaping the bottom of the barrel, putting ancient T-62 tanks into battle, and buying Soviet era artillery rounds from North Korea.

    In addition, does any one think the Ukrainian military is still the 180,000 men it started the war with? Or is it 3 or 4 times that number now? And the West is arming them with smart weapons, not ancient Soviet era dumb weapons.

  9. Arash P

    September 21, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    And there you have it!

    Spoken the truth at the very last sentence.
    The desire to destroy not Putin, not the regime, but Russia itself.

    You should not say the quite parts out loud!

  10. xheavy

    September 21, 2022 at 11:34 pm

    The quiet parts must be stated out loud.

    If no one says anything then its possible that God will treat them as accessories to sin and they will not meet Him at the Judgement. Only cast into the fire.

    Especially if the quiet parts are bad and hurtful.

  11. MortenHJ

    September 22, 2022 at 2:58 am

    This looks like Hitlers last mobilization, the “Volksturm”

  12. Kris Krash

    September 22, 2022 at 8:46 am

    Those neo-nazi battalions have been public knowledge for quite awhile, now. No reason to twist a fact to fit your spin.

    Zelensky signed his country over to the WEF, some months back. Why are we not talking about this? This is a war between socialist governments and I feel no obligation to side with either.

  13. mawendt

    September 22, 2022 at 10:05 am

    I’m thinking anyone one with Russia’s poorly led, poorly maintained, and poorly trained army wouldn’t be able to ‘already beat Ukraine and then punched a few weak NATO countries and laughed as NATO cowered like the whining fools they are’.

    First, the Russia military has shown leadership incompetence, abysmal morale affecting motivation to win, and employment of sub-standard equipment. These three issues would/will take decades as in *Generations* to correct. Not even address the technology gap, and C3 weakness and intelligence failure reflecting a deep rooted narcissistic self-serving group think.

    Second, as whiny and cowardly as NATO acts, NATO nations are opportunistic and realist – they put up with so much because no nation in a front line war profits, and having experience with Total War and the 30 years it takes to rebuild isn’t worth it… until it is. The US needles, provokes, and embarrasses European NATO members to often do ‘the right thing’ which doesn’t benefit them economically or politically, yet when NATO members are in harmony on an issue, Russia or any one else declines to challenge that issue. So… any puncher most probably would receive a drubbing.

    The silliness of stating ‘If I Were Putin’ that you’d be presently ‘winning’ war in any manner is hysterically laughable, subject to deserving and unending mockery.

  14. Ronald Vantine

    September 22, 2022 at 10:08 am

    Only problem is the opposition keeps turning up dead.

  15. Bertram

    September 22, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    If Russia insists handing a rifle to unwilling Russian males and forcing them into military service in their war on Ukraine…they should do the rational thing at the first opportunity and use that rifle to shoot their officers and escape. There is a home waiting for you in the free west.

  16. a reader

    September 22, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    Agreed… Russia’s growth was slow, then Putin imploded it.

    Such a big land area for such a tiny, deflated autocracy. I’m sure the PRC would love to control Vladivostok and Sakhalin. And although the UN will make a play for Artic & Siberia, I’d feel better if Elon Musk administered it.

  17. Rick Stein

    September 25, 2022 at 7:46 pm

    I don’t believe you’ll reach the critical mass required to topple putin from the bottom up. You won’t fet even a million Russians in the streets. It’s the flight forward that’s more likely to get him I think. Some high ranking official will just take his responsibilities and so the job. Or maybe he’ll just end it himself in a bunker like hitler.

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