By Paul Goble
There are at least five reasons why Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilization order, one at odds with Russian law on this issue, is doomed to fail and why this failure will delegitimize his government and even call into question “the very statehood of Russia,” according to Russian commentator Pavel Luzin.
Russia has not carried out a military mobilization since World War II, and its 1997 law on mobilization (pravo.gov.ru/proxy/ips/?docbody=&firstDoc=1&lastDoc=1&nd=102045871) has never been tested. But it is clear, Luzin says, that Putin has ignored its provisions and thus is in uncharted territory (theins.ru/opinions/pavel-luzin/255427).
Problems are inevitable and they are already turning up as Putin uses a measure intended to defend the country to continue his aggression against another. But in addition to that, the Russian analyst says, there are five ways in which what he is doing is certain not only to backfire but to threaten his future and that of Russia as well.
First of all, he says, “this ‘flexible mobilization’ without specific times and other parameters inevitably will undermine trust in the Russian powers, even among those who at least in words have not been against the war. In other words, mobilization [of this kind] will delegitimize the Kremlin.”
Second, an authoritarian regime like Putin’s cannot carry out a mobilization like the ones democratic countries can because there is no mutual trust between them and so this policy will inevitably involve the use of repressive force, further alienating not only opponents but even supporters of the war.
Third, because those mobilized will backfill units who have suffered losses in the war already, they will be led by inexperienced commanders and will almost certainly suffer greater losses, losses that will eat away at the support the Putin regime may have had earlier but will lose as bodies of the mobilized begin to come back to their hometowns.
Fourth, Putin has announced a military mobilization but not a general mobilization for war. As a result, there will be an increasing disconnect between the army and the military industry and social support networks on which it will rely. Either he will have to expand mobilization beyond this “partial” one or suffer its collapse.
And fifth, Putin’s decision to boost the size of his military and thus escalate the conflict in Ukraine will only deepen the isolation of Russia from the rest of the world and lead ever more countries to oppose what he is doing. “In this situation, mobilization only prolongs the agony of the regime and raise the moral and material cost which the Russian people will have to pay.”
In that regard, it is important to remember, Luzin says, that people have to pay for wars long after they end. “For example, Germany completed its payment of reparations for World War I only in 2010, 92 years after its defeat.” If Russia survives or can be reconstituted in some new form, “we will still have to pay our bills for this war into the 22nd century.”