Mobilization in Russia: Before the black mirror of defeat | International

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If anyone harbored any doubts about the military but above all political defeats that Putin is suffering, his speech this morning is the ultimate proof. His position must be very precarious for him to wield the nuclear weapon with such ease, someone who has rubbed elbows until a few months ago with the world political elite as a ruler who was supposed to have a minimal sense of responsibility. At this time, the Russian president is more like Kim Jong-il or Ayatollah Khamenei than his more or less autocratic peers Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi and Erdogan, who have more or less cruelly disfigured his war and now will horrified listened to his bravado about the use of the atomic bomb in case he does not obtain “an imminent victory”, as the truculent Margarita Symonian, the director of RussiaToday.

Politically, Putin has lost this war. He lost it in the first round, when he wanted to overthrow the democratic government with one blow in the hope that the international community would conform, as he already did in 2014 when Crimea was annexed. Now he is losing it militarily and in a big way: with the Ukrainian counteroffensive the war has already reached the Russian border and it is not yet clear where his demoralized troops will be able to stop it. In addition to the loss of war material in large quantities and the surrender of entire units, there are barbaric practices, typical of mercenary and forced armies, in this case recruited largely from prisons, which are being discovered as the soldiery of Putin withdraws. The attacks on purely civilian targets, without any military value, such as the water reservoirs or the swamps with which Russia has responded to the Ukrainian advances, underline the terrorist character, merely vindictive and desperate, of the unworthy Russian military commanders.

The farce of the urgent plebiscites that he is organizing in the territories of Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson, where not a single one of the conditions demanded by international institutions to recognize their results, is of little use to Putin. Neither those who make the most effort to understand Putin will be able to buy the Russian right to decide in Ukraine nor the organized exercise of self-determination under conditions of war. The annexation will serve if anything to display the nuclear weapon, for the time being as a threat, but if necessary for Putin as a response in the form of a tactical bomb, in response to the attack on a territory that within a few days will be considered part of the sacred homeland Russian sovereignty according to the autocratic legality emanating from the Duma.

No matter how much the little tsar of diminished Russia disguises his weakness and his humiliation with impassiveness and parsimony, it is a lie that everything is turning out as he wished. He still does not call war war, but it is clear that the partial mobilization that will summon 300,000 reservists is the decision that is closest to a state of war, even though it is the most moderate against the hardliners of the regime who wanted their own total mobilization of open warfare.

Putin should never be believed for what he says, but for the intentions he attributes to his enemies. They are the accusations in the mirror, his black mirror, in which his purposes are clearly reflected. He has accused the West of wanting to destroy Russia and Ukraine, whose nuclear arsenal he stole, of wanting to attack with nuclear weapons. If partial mobilization does not work and total mobilization continues to be unfeasible for the stability of the regime, the only thing left will be the dilemma between accepting defeat or the nuclear button. Unless someone moves his chair first.

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