Staunton, Nov. 17 – Putin’s two most recent moves on the Ukrainian front, the declaration of partial mobilization and the annexation of Ukrainian regions, have not changed the course of the war there at least not yet but they have fundamentally changed the relationship between the Kremlin and the Russian people, Nikolay Petrov says.
Any military impact of the partial mobilization will appear only after some time, the head of the Moscow Center for Political Geographic Research says. But that action “has already changed the interrelationships between the powers and society” (t.me/belrynok/3571 reposted at thinktanks.by/publication/2022/11/17/nikolay-petrov-vremya-skoree-rabotaet-na-vladimira-putina.html).
Prior to September 21, “the powers did everything possible to show society that the war is something far away, something one watched on television, and that in any case, Russia was having success with its military actions.” But after that date, the war became part of every household in the Russian Federation.
In a similar way, Putin’s proclaimed annexation of the DNR and LNR represents an attempt to transform “a war on foreign territories into a fatherland war,” sending a message to Russians that “now the enemy is attacking a Russian region and everyone must come to the defense of his country.”
It is too early to say how well these two efforts to redefine the situation will play out, Petrov argues.
In other comments, the Russian analyst says that he does not see any reason to think that Russia will disintegrate over mobilization. It is true that more men from Buryatia and Daghestan have died in the fighting than those from Moscow and St. Petersburg. But this is not the result of ill will but rather “the typical picture” of recruitment.
“Residents of well-off regions and the megalopolises not only more often go on to higher educational institutions but can hire a lawyer or give a bribe, and so from these places many fewer people go into the army.” But “in poor and depressed regions, which form the majority in Russia, the army is viewed as a form of social lift.”
From the perspective of people there, “service in the army gives a chance to see the world beyond the borders of one’s home area and serves as a bridge to a better career.” That’s why people in distant regions are more willing to go into the military. Moreover, as long as Moscow continues to subsidize them, the regions will remain relatively stable in political terms.
Petrov also remarks that “in Russia far from everyone follows politics and what is taking place in the Kremlin because such things don’t affect their lives. Somewhere in small cities and villages and in national republics, people don’t think in particular about what is going on in international relations.”