Thursday, August 17, 2023

By Boosting Status of Veterans of Ukrainian War, Putin Provoking ‘Serious Split’ in Russian Society, Pertsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 12 – Vladimir Putin’s boosting of the status of veterans of his war in Ukraine may help him raise troops in the short term; but in the longer one, Andrey Pertsev says, this “division of society into a ‘superior’ group of servicemen and a ‘second-rate group of civilians risk becoming one of the most serious splits in Russian society in recent years.”

            That is because, the Russian analyst continues, “as economic difficulties intensify, the gap between the two will grow ever wider because the worse the Russian economy performs, the more the financial situation of civilians will deteriorate and the better the preferential treatment of the military will be in comparison” (

            According to Pertsev, the powers that be will hardly be able to mitigate this conflict since they provoked it and took sides, an action that “automatically” turns the civilian electorate away from the Kremlin, thus depriving Putin of those who considered part of “Putin’s majority” and a major prop of his regime.

            “Such a loss of this broad support,” he says, “poses a great risk for the authorities who aren’t used to being the party of a minority, even if this is a minority with combat experience.” And that in turn means that the Kremlin, which constantly talks about the unity of society and its cohesion are undermining their own goals.

            Pertsev writes that “many citizens aren’t clear about the war’s goals, are tired of news from the front and want peace talks to being. As such, they aren’t quite willing to view servicemen as ‘heroes,’ ‘defenders’ or veterans. Instead, they view participants in the special military operation and their family members as people who are demanding privileges.”

            Moreover, these new “veterans” are getting support from the government when ordinary Russians are not, the analyst observes; and ordinary people are also angry that those who have served in Ukraine see themselves as deserving the special attention from the authorities and demand that “’ordinary’ citizens give them special treatment as well.

            When that doesn’t happen and “their demands are not met,” Pertsev says, these veterans are “ready to defend these rights with their fists,” confident that the powers that be are on their side rather than on the side of the much larger number of others.

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