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On Victory Day for Russia, Putin faces the option of general mobilization of soldiers

On Victory Day for Russia, Putin faces the option of general mobilization of soldiers
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RIGA, Latvia – Before Russia’s most patriotic and bleak holiday, Victory Day Monday, there was no victory in the war against Ukraine, but there are plenty of rumors that President Vladimir Putin will order a general mobilization of soldiers to secure one.

Analysts see the mobilization as Russia’s best hope for changing the situation and defeating Ukraine, by strengthening the demoralized forces and pushing them back into war. But the stakes – acknowledging that the military campaign so far has been a failure and igniting domestic dissent – may be too great.

Several senior Russian officials sought to stamp out the rumours. “No, no. I can tell you this on air and off,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian parliament, said in comments on Thursday to Russian Radio.

Russia celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany on May 9 with a parade, fireworks and speeches, but this year all eyes are on Vladimir Putin. (Video: Jason Aldagh/The Washington Post; Photo: Heidi Levine for The Washington Post/Washington Post)

The day before, two mysterious figures in the Siberian oil city of Nizhnevartovsk made their minds clear about conscription. One of them, wearing a gray hoodie and camouflage pants, threw seven Molotov cocktails at a local military recruitment center while the other recorded the incident—one of six modern bombs. arson Attacks on Russian recruitment offices. Several attacks led to the arrest of young Russians.

Russia’s 10-week military campaign wasn’t supposed to go this far.

On the day of the invasion, jubilant Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of state-owned RT, wisdom That the Russian campaign was just a “standard rehearsal” for D-Day. “This year they have decided to hold the show in Kyiv,” she wrote on Twitter, using the Russian spelling for the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

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But Russia’s efforts to combine D-Day – its celebration of the Soviet victory over the Nazis in World War II – with its victory in its war against what Moscow calls “Nazis” in Ukraine failed to fail to capture Kyiv. The occupation of the strategic Ukrainian port of Mariupol represents a rare Russian success, but the city’s bombed-out ruins provide an unpalatable backdrop for a parade. Sergei Kirienko, head of the Russian presidential administration, has ruled out holding an official Victory Day parade there Thursday.

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Over the years, Putin has used the holiday to legitimize his increasingly authoritarian rule, exploiting the myth of Russia as a country that never conquered anyone, fought only in self-defense and single-handedly saved the world from the Nazis in World War II, at a staggering cost of 27 million Russian war dead.

Putin will use this day to justify his war against Ukraine and to emphasize, he believes, Russia’s historical mission to fight fascism. Tatiana Stanovaya, President of R.

The strategic problem that Russia faces today is that Russian society was not prepared for a long and costly war. She wanted a quick and decisive victory, which Putin cannot give the Russians.

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Stanovaya said that if Putin declares all-out war and mobilizes the conscripts, it will take at least six months to train them. It would also be an admission that the “special military operation,” as Moscow calls the invasion, she said, was a failure, and “Putin cannot admit it.” “There are no indications that the Kremlin is ready to switch from a special military operation to a war.”

Until now, Russia has relied mainly on soldiers who voluntarily signed contracts for military service. Russian officials had previously vowed not to send recruits into battle, although some did.

Speaking to US-funded Current Time TV, Russian military analyst Ruslan Leviev of the independent open-source analytical group CIT said partial mobilization could help Russia take control of eastern Ukraine, where most of the fighting is now concentrated.

Igor Girkin, the former Russian intelligence officer who led a separatist militia in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region in the 2014 uprising, has repeatedly warned that without general mobilization, Russia faces a protracted war with great losses and the possibility of defeat.

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“In our case, mobilization is necessary in order to win the war that we have come to our ears,” he said in comments last month on Russian social media VKontakte, adding that Russia’s future depends on it.

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But Dmitriy Alperovich, president of the Washington-based Silverado Policy Accelerator, said in an interview that mobilization would be unpopular and risky. “If you have a general mobilization,” he said, “everyone in Russia would know someone or would have a husband, son, nephew, or relative going to fight.”

If Putin called for general mobilization, “Russia would be in a very long war,” said Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, in an interview. “First the Russians will have to train the trainers to train all these people.”

This year, Putin faces a more delicate and difficult task than in previous days of victory. While the Russian media largely ignored Russia’s battlefield losses, they were significant. Russia lost large numbers of tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft and warships, most notably Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea Fleet which was destroyed by help from US intelligence. Between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers were killed, according to to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Appreciation.

Russia’s reputation as a leading military power has been badly damaged, and the country faces a debilitating economic isolation likely to last for years.

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This year’s Victory Day parade will be smaller and more modest than in past years, with fewer parade equipment and no invitation to friendly heads of state, not even Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who Criticize Thursday the way the war continued.

But for many Russians, like 79-year-old Valentina, sacrifices and successes are still looming – and bolstering support for the war in Ukraine.

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“Victory Day is our sacred holiday. I always cry that day,” said Valentina, sitting on a bench in a Moscow park with two friends on Friday. She refused to give her surname. “I was young. My uncle was killed. It was terrible. Many people died, many cities were destroyed, but our country, the Soviet Union, won that war, and we celebrate the heroes on May 9.”

She then repeated the anti-Ukrainian propaganda promoted by Putin and the Russian media, claiming that Ukrainians had been harassing and killing Russian speakers for many years. Our president did the right thing when he sent troops there. We are peaceful people, but something had to be done.”

Analyst Stanislav Belkovsky, speaking to the online outlet We Can Explain associated with exiled business magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, predicted that Putin would use the holiday to pledge never to leave eastern Ukraine and would give the name “Novorussia” or New Russia to a slice of Ukrainian territory along the Sea of ​​Azov.

Stanovaya said she expected Putin to confirm his complaints about Western support for Ukraine and could intensify his efforts to intimidate the West, for example, with more tests of nuclear-capable missiles.

With the war effort faltering, commentators on Russian television have complained that Russia is fighting with a hand tied behind its back to avoid civilian casualties – contrary to the evidence – and have claimed Western assistance, including weapons and intelligence, is pulling the fight.

Stanovaya said they focus on “the idea that Russia is a victim of the West’s unjust and hostile actions.” This means that Putin does not really need to offer the Russians some advantage. It is enough for him to continue to talk about Russia’s historical mission to fight fascism. ”

Marie Ilyushina contributed to this report.