21 September 2022
by Aleksandr Podrabinek
If we don’t shut our eyes to reality and aren’t captivated by futile hopes, then the prognosis is quite nasty. Today’s mobilization is being called partial, but that’s nothing more than a trap to reassure society. Although, who is it reassuring? After all, people realize that partial will be followed by universal.
The last time mobilization was declared was in 1941, but at that time this was provoked by Nazi Germany’s aggression. Mobilization was not declared during the war with Finland, or during the war of aggression against the Baltic republics, or later during the invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan. At the time, they made do with the regular army’s basic forces. Now we don’t have those forces, but that’s not the main point. By declaring mobilization, Putin is trying to equate the real threats of 1941 to the fabricated threats of today. Then, mobilization was needed for the country’s defense; today, to wage a war of aggression.
Putin can’t afford a loss. As he understands it, a good dictator (effective manager) is a man of unvarying good fortune and inevitable success. For the sake of that, he would risk everything he and the country have, regardless of the consequences. As a result, his current policy can only go in one direction: escalation.
WHAT CAN WE IN RUSSIA EXPECT IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
More than likely, leaving the country will be restricted in the next few days. At first all reserve military and then all draft-age men will be prohibited from leaving their place of permanent residence. The first wave of repressions will affect violators of this prohibition specifically. They may shut down free travel abroad in general and introduce exit visas.
They will introduce extraordinary measures in civil life. Free speech will be restricted even more, and the punishment for free-thinking will become even harsher. They will introduce military censorship under some new name. They will limit Internet opportunities—bring in a “sovereign Internet” and try to block everything foreign.
Freedom to do business will shrink to a minimum. All industrial enterprises will be put under the control of military-political structures. Any restrictions and prohibitions will be explained by the difficulty of wartime. They may abolish the free circulation of foreign currency or allow only authorized banks that have government participation to convert currency.
They will shut down all currency exchanges, and brokers on the black currency market will become tasty prey for law enforcement agencies. They will stop the activities of all parties “temporarily.” They will introduce the practice of disfranchisement. They will intern political dissenters in prison camps on a mass scale preventively and without bringing charges, for which they will institute special courts modeled on the Stalin “troikas.” They will cancel the Constitutional Court’s ban on the death penalty.
WHAT SHOULD OTHER COUNTRIES EXPECT?
The threat to use nuclear weapons may be a bluff, but it’s all just a question of probability. After all, it might not be a bluff. Therefore, it’s better to take Putin’s words seriously. Without fear, but also without casual confidence in the Russian leadership’s good sense. The line between a political bluff and military hysteria can be very flexible, and responsible people might cross it unintentionally, but then …
This, in my opinion, is how events are going to develop in the next few months, unless something extraordinary happens to disrupt the logical course of events. What might that be?
It might be Putin’s removal from his post as president as the result of a coup or intrigue in his innermost circle. It might be the Russian army’s wholesale rout and the ensuing chaos in the structures of power. And, finally, it might be society’s reactions to the soldiers’ coffins coming from the front. The grief of those losses may end up being more powerful than the fear of repressions.
This morning, at the grocery store, I heard the cashier, her eyes tear-stained, say to a clerk: “Imagine, just a month of training in Naro-Fominsk, then straight there…”
Translated by Marian Schwartz