Gambler Putin Intended to Strike Fear into the Enemy. Instead he Has Struck Fear into Russia.

I cannot conceive of a more horrendous prospect were I a Russian below the age of 65 than to be called up to fight an unwinnable war led by an incompetent and cruel leadership against a fierce, well trained and better armed opponent determined to liberate Ukraine from oppressive and at times sadistic invaders. Clearly I am not alone, judging by what the editorial board of Nezavisimaya gazeta tells us.

With an economy reeling from the fierce and all-encompassing economic sanctions imposed upon Russia by NATO, Putin intends to take a third of a million men from a workforce already overstrained and demoralised and leave families fatherless at a time of severe economic hardship with no certainty of their return in one piece and rather more likelihood that they will come back, if at all, in body bags.

Of course a respectable newspaper operating under strict censorship cannot quite say that. Instead it offers up all the pieces of the argument scattered amidst showers of banal verbal confetti.

The core of what it would like to say more clearly is that Putin cannot back down because he will lose what popularity he possesses, that the population has responded to his call for mobilisation “with a neurotic reaction” which, from what it goes on to say, appears entirely justified, including the “panicky” reactions in social media and the panicky and at the same time “practical” reactions of “the female half of the population” queueing outside the shops. For good reasons: “The masses of rumours that have cascaded on Russians find fertile soil.”

As a cautious politician Putin has always been careful not to overstep the mark even when he made the controversial decision to raise the retirement age. “But”, Nezavisimaya gazeta goes on, “the risks now are of a greater order of magnitude.” The decision on mobilisation is not just unexpected, it “influences the attitude of a section of society towards the special military operation. A military conflict taking place somewhere out there far away, where, as it turns out from what Sergei Shoigu says, thousands of young people are dying, reaches deeper into the pores of society, constituting its inner essence that affects how it behaves, politically as well.” Won’t the partial mobilisation become even greater and increase to millions? “Lack of reliable information creates mistrust and rumours”, the editors recall from the good old Soviet era.

Nezavisimaya gazeta concludes with a veiled warning. The president is consciously risking what popularity he has in order to obtain victory in the field. He knows how narrow is “the corridor of possibilities” for Russia in its confrontation in Ukraine and he knows he cannot advance without partial mobilisation; so he is hoping to recover his popularity with a victory that will “write off the mistakes of the campaign.”

In other words Russia is being run by a gambler at loose in the casino, just hoping on one more turn of the wheel; the kind that bought bitcoin at $60,000 and, now below $20,000, still hopes to recoup the losses and finally win out through the ultimate purchase.

Nezavisimaya gazeta:

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22.09.2022 19:31:00

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Своим решением о частичной мобилизации Путин фактически проинформировал общество о том, что ситуация хоть и плановая, но трудная