After the successes that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has been reaping, today Vladimir Putin announced an order of "partial mobilization".
Putin's speech highlights his failure in Ukraine
The order (can be read here) was announced by the Russian dictator himself in a televised speech (here the official transcript in English). Among all the lies and false talk that are already typical of Russian propaganda, this speech reveals some striking things.
The first is the change of objectives of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As you may recall, on February 24, Putin stated that its purpose was to "demilitarize" and "denazify" Ukraine, which in cynical Kremlin propaganda parlance meant invading the entire country and installing a puppet government. However,Putin now limits himself to talking about "liberating" the Donbas. The change of objectives had already been made clear months ago, and what the Russian dictator shows with this is that Putin's initial plan failed and now he has to settle for less.
From the bravado of February to the pathetic victimhood of September
The second striking thing is that Putin has made a false and pathetically victimizing speech, even accusing the West of pushing Ukraine into a "war" (a word he has used for the first time) against Russia. The fact is that it was Russia, and not Ukraine, that invaded the neighboring country. This is an invasion that Putin miscalculated and is costing the invaders huge losses. And that is why Putin has gone from the bravado of February, when he threatened to conquer the whole of Ukraine, to trying to convince his subjects that Russia may be invaded (in his speech he accused the West of wanting to "destroy our country"). Many Russian citizens must wonder what this useless person has done to put Russia in this situation, even if it is fictitious, like all the Kremlin's propaganda (here the only threatened nation is still Ukraine).
The official figures do not add up: call up 300,000 reservists for 6,000 casualties?
On the other hand, Putin has been unable to admit any mistakes. But his actions expose them. He would have no need to resort to this partial mobilization if the invasion went as well as he had planned and as well as Russian propaganda has been presenting it for months.
At the same time, those actions also expose the lies of the Kremlin. As reported by the Russian state agency Tass, during an interview broadcast by the Rossiya 24 channel, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced today that 300,000 reservists will be called up as a result of this "partial mobilization" announced by Putin. Shoigu has also claimed that Russian losses were 5,937 soldiers (without specifying how many are killed and how many are wounded). Ukrainian General Staff said today that Russian casualties add up 55,110 soldiers. In August, the Pentagon estimated Russian casualties at between 70,000 and 80,000 dead and wounded.
Without stating a priori which of these figures will be correct, let us make a simple deduction: when Russia calls up 300,000 reservists due to the poor progress of its aggression against Ukraine and due to the serious losses that the invaders are suffering (as of today, the web Oryxspioenkop.com has documented 6,202 military vehicles lost by the Russians, including 1,155 tanks), is it more likely that the true number of casualties is closer to the 5,937 claimed by Russia or the 55,110 claimed by Russia? Ukraine? Any minimally serious observer realizes the reality. You don't call up 300,000 reservists because you've lost about 6,000 soldiers in an invasion force of about 200,000 soldiers.
Avalanche of fleeing Russians who do not want to go to Ukraine to die
The Kremlin's scant capacity for conviction has become clear in recent hours with the large number of flight reservations to flee Russia and a tail of up to 35 kilometers at the Russian-Finnish border. The approval of a reform of the Russian Penal Code to punish deserters from this "special operation" (since Putin insists on not calling it "war") with long prison sentences has made clear the unwillingness of many Russians to go to die to Ukraine, as has already happened to tens of thousands of their compatriots.
Reservists with even lower combat morale than professionals
The possibility that this partial mobilization could influence the course of the war is difficult to guess, but we must bear in mind that up to now Russia had mobilized professionals and volunteers, who already had a very low combat morale, as well as residents of Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine, whose combat morale is even lower. This has caused that there should be riots among the invaders and mass defections (this is why Putin wants to toughen the punishments against them). Imagine what could happen if the front is now filled with reservists even less prepared than the soldiers who had already been mobilized.
The Russian army continues without resolving its serious material deficiencies
On the other hand, the Russian army has shown great shortcomings in terms of logistics, equipment for its soldiers, maintenance of its vehicles and even in the quality of its materials, sending war weapons to the front that are now obsolete and ineffective against modern anti-tank weapons. These deficiencies remain unresolved -largely because they are caused by the corruption that runs through the russian military establishment- and they will not solve with this partial mobilization. What Russia will send to the front lines will be even more poorly equipped soldiers with the same logistical problems that have prevented Russia from succeeding more than 100 km from its borders.
Putin follows Stalin's example but without his outside help
In these conditions, what Putin is doing is recruiting cannon fodder without any respect for his own soldiers. It is the same thing that Stalin already did in the Second World War, causing enormous casualties to the Red Army. The difference is that then the USSR had enormous American and British help, which now it lacks. In fact, to be successful in Ukraine Russia is not enough to mobilize men, but also its military industry, but this has been diminished by Western sanctions, forcing Russia to take steps as unusual as buy drones from the Iranians.
The rise of discontent in Russia: wave of protests against mobilization
Everything we have just seen could lead to increased discontent in Russia. A discontent that already in the early hours of this afternoon has been reflected in protests against the mobilization in Russia, followed by a wave of arrests of protesters. We will shortly see what can happen when millions of Russians face the prospect of losing a loved one in this absurd war initiated by Putin, moved by his crazy imperialism and by an ideological fiction fueled by the constant lies from the Kremlin.
In just six months, Ukraine has become for many Russians a drama similar to what the War in Afghanistan was for the Soviets a few decades ago. In that war, the USSR ended up defeated and abandoned the country, but it seems clear that Moscow did not learn the lesson. Now, Russia has already suffered in six months much more material losses and almost as many human casualties as the Soviets in 11 years in Afghanistan. At 69, Putin shows that he does not mind sending tens of thousands of young Russians to die in Ukraine, but by doing so, the Russian dictator is playing Russian roulette: the mobilization ordered today could turn against him and end his mandate in the worst possible way. Now it remains to be seen whether the Russian people are capable of throwing out this despot or prefer to continue bleeding for him.
The West must continue to help Ukraine to win this war
In any case, what the West must do is continue to support Ukraine militarily, not only because that military aid has been shown to be effective and because stopping it now would leave the way clear for Russia at a time when was on the ropes, but also because of a moral issue: the West cannot allow a thug like Putin to impose his will by force on Europe. Today it is Ukraine's turn, but tomorrow it could be any other country , including some NATO members such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. We must not repeat the mistake that Chamberlain and Daladier made in 1938 by appeasing Hitler, giving him Czechoslovakia and thus giving him more time and more resources to arm himself.
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