Region of Khabarovsk, Russian Far East. Of the men line up in the night, waiting to be swallowed up in the belly of a jumbo jet. others get on buses, surrounded by police officers, in the town of Stary Oskol, located between Belgorod and Voronezh. Still others, young and old, brag about sharing a bottle of vodka before returning to their barracks.

Russia has launched for 48 hours the first partial mobilization of its population since the Second World War and the promises of the authorities already seem to have been swept away out of hand. President Vladimir Putin had assured that the measure should, among the reservists, concern men with already used » and own ” an experiment military “or about 300,000 people, according to figures from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The first testimonies from the field tell another story, that of mobilized soldiers who have never held a gun and who do not know for how long they are leaving.

Regional authorities are responsible for the recruitment ofs soldiers, they will cast their nets and see what they can catch, in order to meet the quotas imposed on themnotes Anna Colin Lebedev, lecturer in political science at the University of Paris-Nanterre and specialist in the Russian world. The way in which the decree is not written allows a general mobilization, and no one yet knows the extent that the latter could take. » According to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazetawho cites an internal Kremlin source, article 7 of the mobilization order, reserved for internal use »would authorize the Russian army to conscript a million soldiers.

Mobilization should theoretically only affect conscripts who have completed their service in the past five years, which represents two million people. It is realistically estimated that only 10% of these soldiers have since received refresher training and that only 5,000 of them have a real aptitude in combatunderlines Dimitri Minic, researcher at the Russia center of the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri). However, these findings are very theoretical, and if the authorities are rounding up of the men without distinction, the effectiveness of the mobilization serums close to zero. The Russian army did not have them abilitiess to form its reserve effectively, it is doubtful that it have the possibility to frame them mobilized, while the fighting in Ukraine absorbsNT a good part of its resources. »

A poster with a photo of a Russian soldier in central Moscow, September 21, 2022. © Photo Anton Karliner / Sipa

The best Russian units were decimated during the first weeks of the war, and the losses have multiplied since the victorious offensive of the Ukrainian military in the Kharkiv region at the beginning of September. Could new troops restore the initiative to Kremlin forces?

Basic military training requires a month of training, and two or three more to acquire advanced skills. In order to be at least effective, these new units should not be deployed before six months. Or, the Russian army is falling apart. We should therefore see a gradual build-up of troops bad quality, basically to pay defend the Donbass. The latter will be equipped with obsolete Soviet weapons and incapable of launching complex offensives »continues Dimitri Minic.

According to the Russian authorities, the number of new recruits should be proportional to the population of each region, and the mobilization will logically primarily affect the large agglomerations of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

In general, one can imagine that families who have substantial economic capital and a privileged social position will have more chances of escaping mobilization, by bribing an official or by obtaining a medical certificate proving incapacity for combat.nuance Aude Merlin, lecturer in political science at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), specialist in Russia and the Caucasus. The Russians have known for a long time how to escape conscription but it is necessary to see, within the framework of the mobilization, whether these circumvention mechanisms can be activated or not. »

Over the past two days, flight ticket prices have skyrocketed from Moscow and traffic jams have appeared at Russia’s land borders with Finland, Georgia and Kazakhstan. We must not attend large demonstrations but II expectof the to one strong passive resistance of the populationcontinues Anna Colin Lebedev. D“According to Russian law, it is necessary to receive one’s mobilization order in person to be considered criminally responsible for one’s refusal to serve in the army. Ba lot of men will therefore go and get green with friends or family. »

Jout of the country is theoretically subject to the same regime, and therefore the numbers of recruits, then of d*aths and injuries will increase everywhere, including in central Russia, confirms Ksenia Pimenova, sociologist and anthropologist, specialist in minorities in Russia. But we can assume that this mobilization will rely on most republics poor, in Siberia, in the Volga and in the Caucasus, and on indigenous peoples. young men, in these regions, do not have the same possibility of escaping mobilization hiding in someone’s house we avoiding public places. »

These same regions are already paying a heavy price for the war in Ukraine and, before the mobilization announced by the Kremlin, there were proportionally more victims in Tuva and Buryatia than in the rest of Russia.

Faithful ally of the Kremlin, Ramzan Kadyrov announced, on the evening of September 22, that the mobilization would not take place on the territory of Chechnya, this republic having in fact already ensured recruitment exceeding the quotas 254% ». The mobilization in Chechnya was organized upstream by the authorities, who seek to anticipate, anticipate and sometimes go beyond the expectations of the central power.continues Aude Merlin. Before the mobilization order, he was already impossible to speak of “volunteering” for those who went to the Ukrainian front. In fact, those who refuse to enlist can face criminal penalties for “terrorism”. Fear reigns and Chechen soldiers who perished are buried at night, out of sight. »

To spare the Russians as much as possible, the Kremlin also seems tempted to rely on Central Asian migrants settled in Russia. According a new text voted by Parliament, foreign servants under contract in the army for at least a year could thus obtain Russian citizenship in a simplified way, a barely masked appeal to the millions of poor workers in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan having lost their jobs since February 24, as the note on Twitter Olivier Ferrando, lecturer at the Catholic University of Lyon.

In recent days, the embassies in Moscow of the countries of Central Asia have also been obliged to remind their nationals that participation in hostilities on the territory of a foreign state is criminally reprehensible.

Faced with the challenge that seems to be mounting, President Vladimir Putin is now walking in the dark. “Like all previous conflicts, the war waged by the Kremlin in Ukraine was supported at least in word by the majority of Russian citizens, as it remained extremely distantefinished Anna Colin Lebedev. Today, it has returned to every home in the country. The state is att*cking the bases of its legitimacy, the relationship to power will therefore change in nature. In terms of domestic policy, it is an unprecedented shift, an earthquake whose consequences are unpredictable. »

In a communication exercise where he excels, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for his part launched on September 22 and in Russian a call for desertion to the Kremlin soldiers: 55,000 Russian soldiers were killed in this war in six months […]. Want more? Nope ? So protest! Fight! Run away ! Our meeting. »

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