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Putin faces ‘significant domestic backlash’ over troop call-up: analysis

23.09.2022 09:40
The Kremlin’s “heavy-handed approach” to partial mobilisation for war in Ukraine is fueling “significant domestic backlash for little gain,” according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
The Russian authorities heavy-handed approach to partial mobilisation for war in Ukraine is fueling significant domestic backlash for little gain, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
The Russian authorities' “heavy-handed approach” to partial mobilisation for war in Ukraine is fueling “significant domestic backlash for little gain,” according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The US think tank made the assessment in its latest analysis of the war in Ukraine, published on Thursday night. 

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine and warned the West he was ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia. 

In the wake of Putin’s announcement, protests have erupted across Russia against the partial mobilisation, news outlets reported.

‘Kremlin violates promise to recruit only those with army experience’

Analysing the progress of the partial call-up so far, the ISW wrote: “The Kremlin’s heavy-handed approach to partial mobilisation may successfully meet the Kremlin’s internal quota of mobilised personnel but is unlikely to generate effective soldiers and is prompting significant domestic backlash for little gain.”

The US experts elaborated thatRussian authorities are forcibly recruiting Russian citizens to fight in Ukraine on flimsy pretexts, violating the Kremlin’s promise to recruit only those with military experience.”

Furthermore, Russian authorities are “demonstrably mobilising personnel (such as protesters) who will enter the war in Ukraine with abysmal morale,” they added. 

According to the ISW, “The Kremlin's heavy-handed approach to partial mobilisation will likely exacerbate domestic resentment of a measure that would have been unpopular even if implemented without the harsh approaches observed in the last 24 hours.”

‘Kremlin openly not adhering to promises’

The US analysts assessed that “The Kremlin is openly not adhering to its promised conditions for partial mobilisation just 24 hours after its September 21 declaration.”

Russian officials previously claimed that partial mobilisation will only impact 300,000 men and only those with previous military experience,” they noted, adding that Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov “stated on September 22 that the practice of administering mobilisation notices to detained protesters does not contradict the September 21 mobilisation law.”

The US think tank wrote that “Peskov’s threat contravenes the Kremlin's claim that it will abstain from mobilising men outside of composed reservist lists.”

Draft notices given to protesters

The ISW cited Western and Russian opposition media outlets, which reported instances of Russian military commissars “administering draft notices to protesters in Moscow and Voronezh.”

Russian opposition media also reported on “a bank IT specialist who had received a draft notice despite never having served in the army or attended military-education courses in university,” the US experts stated.

According to the ISW, “The IT specialist is likely one of many Russian men who received mobilisation notices despite not meeting the stated criteria for partial mobilisation.” 

The US think tank noted that “A university student in Buryatia released footage of Rosgvardia and military police pulling students from lessons, reportedly for mobilisation, despite Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu repeatedly stating that Russian students will not be mobilised.”

Public anger and distrust

The ISW further wrote that “The Kremlin’s heavy-handed approach to mobilisation is prompting public anger and distrust across Russia.”

It quoted independent Russian human rights outlet OVD-Info as reporting that protests took place in 42 cities across the country, including protests even in small villages in the Republic of Dagestan.

Situation in Ukraine

Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence reported on Friday that “In the last three days, Ukrainian forces have secured bridgeheads on the east bank of the Oskil river in Kharkiv Oblast.”

Writing in their latest intelligence update on the war, the UK analysts noted that “Russia has attempted to integrate the Oskil into a consolidated defensive line following its forces’ withdrawals earlier in the month.”

The British Ministry of Defence also reported that “To the South, in Donetsk Oblast, fighting is ongoing as Ukrainian forces assault the town of Lyman, east of the Siverskyy Donets River, which Russia captured in May.”

Overall, the UK experts assessed that “The battlefield situation remains complex, but Ukraine is now putting pressure on territory Russia considers essential to its war aims.”

Friday is day 212 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Source: understandingwar.org, ft.comUK Ministry of Defence