The Splintering of Opinion in Russia

At a time when its army is on the run, Russia’s consensus on the war among those on the right is breaking under the strain. An article in Komsomol’skaya pravda today trots out the usual, xenophobic banalities but is nonetheless revealing in other respects. Among the most ridiculous claims is that once the population in the Russian-occupied regions of Eastern Ukraine vote to become part of Russia then they are legally Russian. This is certainly a preposterous twist to international public law that was not even visible under Stalin. Presumably anywhere they choose to occupy on the globe immediately becomes legally Russian. And this apparently means that “Moscow will have new means of conducting military operations.” Now they can call it a war and carry out partial mobilisation, but not of neophytes, the writer assures dear readers, but of officers in the reserve. Moreover, it will mean stiffer penalties for those deserting the front line and those disobeying orders. In this bizarre formulation, there is nowhere to desert to since the men will already be in Russia! In addition, obviously to cheer everyone up, the writer assures us that if they are defending Russian territory they are at liberty to use nuclear weapons – though, presumably as long as the wind is not driving in from the West.

One reaction to this kind of idiotic bluster comes in the hardline newspaper Vzglyad ru, where readers normally compete on the comments page to sound the most patriotic they can. Here one reader who has had his fill of this kind of talk that has been going on for some days says:

“After defeat on the Kharkov front and the de facto collapse of the SMO (Special Military Operation) as a result of the stupidity and incompetence of our commander-in-chief [Putin] one would not want to offer on this gibberish.”

Quite so.

And in his brief statement this morning – 21 September – Putin still found it necessary to claim, after all this, that the decision to attack Ukraine (the so-called SMO) was “the only one possible”: obviously directed at those Russians who never thought it was.

Komsomol’skaya pravda, 20 September 2022:

20 сентября 2022 15:54
Будем освобождать уже не просто Донбасс, а Россию
Что поменяют в нашей жизни референдумы в ДНР, ЛНР, Херсоне и Запорожской области, а так же поправки «военного времени», принятые Госдумой

Vzglyad ru, 19 September 2022