Staunton, May 9 – As Putin’s war in Ukraine has dragged on, many people in Russia and the West have expected him to mobilize, believing that such a mobilization will bring Moscow the victory in Ukraine that has so far eluded them, a conviction that rests on a mistaken parallel between World War II and the war in Ukraine, Mikhail Pozharsky says.
Such people assume that it was Stalin’s mobilization of the Soviet population that won the war over Hitler; but they are wrong, the Russian commentator says. What won the war were the actions of the Nazis who convinced Russians that they faced an existential threat and had to fight to the death (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6288E159EFEE2).
If the German forces had not provided repeated examples of brutality and criminality, no amount of mobilization by Stalin would have achieved that end. That was demonstrated in the first weeks of the war when hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops surrendered to German forces.
Had Stalinist mobilization and propaganda been enough, that would not have happened. But Russians fought back only when they saw with their own eyes German crimes and abuses or heard about them from people who had. Without that German example, mobilization would not have been sufficient.
Today, Pozharsky says, if Putin were to declare a mobilization, he would have to answer a question he can’t. Why should Russians fight in Ukraine? Propaganda about the few and far between Ukrainian military crimes is hardly enough, he continues; and no Russian feels that Ukrainians are an existential threat.
Without that sense of threat that explains why Russians fought so well in the Great Patriotic War, there is no reason to think that Moscow would obtain what it might hope for from mobilization. Instead, while its police could get men into the army, it would find that they were disaffected and not committed to the cause.
Moreover, the commentator says, they would be armed with obsolete weapons because this time around “Lend-Lease is on the wrong side.” And because of those two factors, the result of Putin’s war in Ukraine would be very predictable and not at all what Putin promised and wants.
Fanatics may not want to recognize this reality; but the Kremlin, for all its problems, does assess things more or less soberly. It knows that any “mobilization will not bring a military victory in Ukraine but it will greatly increase the degree of discontent in the Russian Federation,” something that it may fear even more than what happens on the battlefields in Ukraine.