Saturday, September 24, 2022

With Putin’s Mobilization, Russians Must Now Ask Whether Russia Can Survive if Putin Remains, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 22 – Even though the Kremlin still refuses to call what it is doing in Ukraine a war, Vitaly Portnikov says, by declaring a mobilization, Putin has transformed the conflict there for Russians from a “tv war” into a real one that will now touch every family in the Russian Federation.

            What is happening, the Ukrainian commentator says, is something that could easily have been predicted when Putin began this war: “Russia is being transformed into a country of graves. Putin thinks he is conducting this war until Ukraine is exhausted but he is at the same time exhausting his own country” (

            Because of Putin’s actions, Portnikov continues, “soon there will be villages without men, orphans and young widows. Soon on the streets of all Russian cities, the disabled will be begging for alms just as they did after World War II.” And that is the most obvious way in which Putin’s war is not only destroying Ukraine but destroying his own country as well.

            At present, there is a big difference between the two nations. “Ukrainians are trying to stop the Russian dictator while Russians live in fear of him or indifference about what is happening. But now fear and indifference both lead t the murder not only of the people of a neighboring country but to national suicide.”

            Moreover, Portnikov continues, “if Putin decides to use nuclear weapons, then the future of Russia and the Russian people will come to an end.” In a world where the death of millions of others, Russians are unlikely to find any “consolidation” given that they too will be dead as well.  And ever more of them are likely to begin to ask whether this is worth it.

            This isn’t an idle question, he says; it is one Russians should be asking, not about Ukrainians but about themselves. “Will Russia survive if Putin remains in power? Will my family, my wife, my children and myself survive” if that is the case?

According to the Ukrainian commentator, the answer is “obvious. If Putin remains, there will be no Russia,” and that conclusion is taking on new meaning now that the Kremlin leader is arming his own people. “As Russian history has repeatedly demonstrated, an armed population can become a final judgment” even on a regime as awful as Putin’s.

The Russian dictator “can’t defeat the Ukrainians, but that is not Putin’s main problem: At the end of this terrible spectacle, he may face armed Russians” who will want to know why he is destroying Russians as well. “I don’t wish this even on my enemy,” Portnikov says; “but I wish it for Putin with a completely clear conscience.”


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