Infidel753, Putin’s war comes home.
For most of the duration of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the majority of Russians have either supported the aggression or at least not objected too energetically. The war did not affect them much, except insofar as Western sanctions did. That is now changing, thanks to Putin’s ill-advised and stunningly incompetent mass mobilization.
Authorities are now simply grabbing men more or less at random off the streets, in workplaces, at railway stations — anywhere groups of men can be found. The victims of these pressgangs are being sent to the front in Ukraine with negligible training, often mere days after being “recruited”, often with grossly inadequate weapons and supplies. This is a recipe for mass slaughter. It’s also a recipe for mass unrest, since pretty much any man in Russia knows he could fall victim at any moment. Besides the extensively-covered hordes of men fleeing the country or trying to, others are making efforts to hide or to avoid places where the regime’s thugs are likely to catch them. For the first time, the war is posing a real threat to the safety of ordinary Russians.
(There’s another potential problem looming. Putin’s recruiters have been targeting convicted criminals in prison, offering them pardon and release in exchange for military service. Some of these convicts have been taking the deal, then deserting from the army, with their weapons, and forming armed gangs to commit robberies and other crimes in Russia. The average Russian will not be very happy to see bands of hardened criminals with military weapons roaming the country and terrorizing people.)
Throughout the war there have been reports from across Russia of urban protests and acts of resistance such as bombings of military recruitment centers. Now that almost all Russians potentially feel threatened (men directly, and women via the danger to male relatives), we shouldn’t be surprised if opposition to the war escalates to a mass level. Already the head of the mobilization campaign has apparently been murdered, and extra security for “mobilization teams” has been put in place. The regime’s enforcers are becoming scared of the people.
There are also already signs of conflict along ethnic and religious lines (non-Russian ethnic minorities, who are mostly Muslim, have been disproportionately used as cannon fodder throughout the war). For example, a shootout between Muslim and ethnic-Russian soldiers at a military training site reportedly killed as many as thirty people. If anti-military unrest combines with ethnic conflict, not only the regime but the integrity of the country itself could be in danger. And the loss of tens of thousands of young men killed and wounded in Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands who have fled, doesn’t bode well for Russia’s future.
Putin thought he was making Russia great again by invading Ukraine. He may go down in history as the man who ended Russia’s great-power pretensions once and for all.