The Wall Street Journal reports:
President Vladimir Putin’s moves to mobilize as many as 300,000 reservists, threaten nuclear strikes and annex occupied parts of Ukraine show how badly the war has gone for Russia, military and political analysts say, and are unlikely to stop the Ukrainian advance or reverse the battlefield situation in the immediate future.
Mr. Putin made these announcements a day after snap referendums on joining Russia were called for Friday in the Russian-occupied parts of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine. The decisions followed a swift military defeat that forced Russian forces to vacate another partially occupied Ukrainian region, Kharkiv, earlier this month and drew pressure from Russian nationalists to escalate the war.
“This is a last throw of the stun grenade. It reveals weakness,” said retired Royal Air Force Air Marshal Edward Stringer, former head of operations for the British Ministry of Defense.
In their current state, Russia’s armed forces don’t appear capable of absorbing, training and deploying hundreds of thousands of new recruits, he said.
Those forcibly mobilized soldiers, while helping Russia shore up its defenses, also aren’t likely to be motivated fighters. “The war is increasingly going to be fought, on the Russian side, by people who don’t want to be there, and ultimately there is going to be an effect on morale,” said Rob Lee, an expert on the Russian military at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. [Continue reading…]
Michael Weiss and James Rushton report:
“No war!” people chanted in the Old Arbat, a famous street in Moscow. “Life for our children!” they shouted in St. Petersburg, along with the more provocative “Putin in the trenches!” The president’s ukase (edict) has been met with chaos and confusion in the streets. Authorities even have difficulty distinguishing the war objectors from the proponents. One man wearing a Russian Army sweatshirt in Yekaterinburg declared, “I am leaving for war tomorrow. … I am for Russia,” before he too was hauled away by the authorities, presumably because they mistook him for an antiwar demonstrator.
In the past several hours, flights out of Moscow have skyrocketed in price, with some carriers charging as much as $16,000 a ticket to travel to Dubai. And that’s on one of the few flights still available: All planes to visa-free countries were completely sold out, according to the Russian news portal RBC.
Partial mobilization has also already separated those in Russian society who qualify for the frontlines from those who do not.
A colleague of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny rang up Nikolai Peskov, the son of Putin’s press secretary, pretending to be an enlistment officer and demanding that Peskov report for a medical examination. “You must understand,” replied the younger Peskov, who is also a correspondent for the Kremlin-controlled RT media network, “if you know that I am Mr. Peskov, how much it is not entirely correct for me to be there. In short, I will solve it on a different level.” [Continue reading…]