Sunday, May 29, 2022

Moscow Not Carrying through on Threats to Bring Criminal Charges against Russians who Refuse to Serve in Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 13 – The number of Russians who refuse to go to Ukraine to fight in Putin’s war there is unknown with any exactitude, with reports ranging from 500 to 7,000; but one thing is clear: Moscow officials despite their threats to do so have not brought criminal charges against those who do.

            In this, these officials are following provisions in the 1993 Constitution which give Russians the right to act in conformity with their convictions including on questions of military service (

            But given the Kremlin’s willingness to violate the constitution whenever that document gets in the way of what it wants to do, the real reason likely is to be found in a political calculation by the powers that be that any such enforcement of orders to go to Ukraine would spark an explosion of popular anger.

            If that interpretation is correct, and no alternative one readily suggests itself, then the Kremlin is very much aware that while Russians are quite prepared to tell pollsters that they agree with Putin’s war in Ukraine, that support is thin and that Moscow can’t count on those who declare themselves loyalists to do what the regime wants.

            That in turn would mean that reports of draft resistance and violations of military discipline by men already in the service are a better indication of just how much or rather how little backing there is among Russians for this war, yet another constraint on the Kremlin and its conduct of military operations there.

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