Monday, March 6, 2023

For Ukraine War, Putin Wants Mercenaries and Criminals Not the Ideologically Committed who Might Pose Difficult Questions, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 6 – In a follow on to his seminal article detailing why “Ukraine is Russia’s last peasant war” (, Vladimir Pastukhov says that Putin doesn’t want to risk mobilizing people in the cities because even the ideologically committed there might soon pose hard questions.

            People from the villages will go to war, fight and die and they and their survivors can be bought off at minimal cost, the London-based Russian analyst says; but people in the cities, even those who favor the war, pose a real threat. They would  be far more likely to ask questions about the war that Putin doesn’t want asked (

            According to Pastukhov, the Kremlin leader isn’t worried about anti-war attitudes but rather about what would happen instead of peasants he can order about at will or mercenaries and criminals who’ll fight without asking questions, urban Russians who support the idea of the war would likely ask about how it is being fought and why it is being lost.

            The Kremlin leader can’t afford such questions to be asked, and that is why, Pastukhov says, Putin has not sought the general mobilization that might help him win the war because such a mobilization would involve urban Russians with troubling questions not in opposition to the war as such but about why he hasn’t chosen to win it.

            Indeed, the Russian analyst says, the failure of the regime to support the volunteer movement has its roots in this same fear. Putin doesn’t want to have the ideologically committed become the backbone of his armed forces. Such people would not only ask tough questions but might take actions against his own approach and even his remaining in power.

            “For the Kremlin, war is an instrument and not a goal in itself. It wants to survive on account of the war but not to die in it,” Pastukhov argues. Consequently, “the regime doesn’t need volunteers” or the ideologically committed. “They are dangerous to it and instead, the regime needs either mercenaries who seek money or outcasts” who want other goods.”

            In short, “the last thing this regime needs now is ideological fighters; and hence, Putin is moving very slowly about any plan to launch a general mobilization that might bring such people into the armed forces.

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