Explained: Russia's Military Mobilisation

Swarajya Staff

Sep 27, 2022, 06:03 PM | Updated Sep 28, 2022, 12:16 PM IST

Reservists line up outside a recruitment office in the Siberian town of Tara.
Reservists line up outside a recruitment office in the Siberian town of Tara.
  • Since the announcement of 'partial mobilisation', at least 17 military recruitment centres and government building have suffered attacks from Russian men.
  • Resistance amongst Russians against Russia's 'partial mobilisation' has taken a violent turn.

    Two recruitment centres have been attacked. Reports are suggesting that borders are clogged with fighting-age men who are seeking to leave the country. Some are being turned back.

    On Monday, in Siberia, a 25 year old gunman from the city of Ust-Ilimsk opened fire at a recruiting centre. He entered the recruiting centre with a homemade weapon.

    He critically wounded the military recruitment centre's commander.

    "Everyone is going home now," the gunman yelled, as per local media reports.

    At another military recruitment centre a man rammed a car into the recruitment centre and attacked the recruitment centre with Molotov cocktails.

    The violence against military recruitment centres in Russia and the long lines of fighting age men at borders and airports indicates that Vladimir Putin's 'partial mobilisation' is facing resistance from sections of the Russian society.

    As of now, Putin is mostly relying on recruitment from those specific territories of Russia where internet penetration is low, education level is low and trust in the message that Kremlin disseminates is high.

    The far-flung poorer regions of Russian territory are the primary target for recruitment drives.

    The war, which till now wasn't touching the ordinary Russian society is now altering the lives of ordinary Russians in a grave manner.

    Russian men face a choice between being drafted or leaving the country.

    Not everyone can afford to leave the country. Those who can, have choked the nation's airports and border points. Many are being turned back now.

    The gunman who attacked the military recruitment centre in Russia wasn't subject to a recruitment order, although he is of fighting age. According to information provided by his mother to the local media, he was upset that his close friend was drafted.

    He has now been arrested. The commander he targeted is in a critical condition, as per the statements put out by the regional governor's office.

    State-run news service RIA Novosti has reported that "the weapon used in the attack that was crudely fashioned from a block of wood, a pipe and a common pipe strap."

    Mobilisation has still not touched average Russians in major cities, at least not in a significantly noticeable scale.

    Whilst most Russians support the war against Ukraine, most oddly enough, appear rather unwilling to fight in the war.

    Vladimir Putin faces a new challenge in the home-front now. The risk that the support for war amidst Russians will decline due to the 'partial mobilisation' is significant.

    Although it is seldom mentioned in the headlines, since the fall of the USSR, the Russian society has become more prosperous under Putin's rule. He succeeded in ending the chaos of the 90s.

    Dilapidated Russian cities with socialist housing architecture turned into cities resembling any other urban centre in Europe. Thanks to all this, for a long time, Putin has enjoyed goodwill from vast sections of the Russian society.

    But now, there is a sense of heightened anxiety that has never been noticed before, at least not during Putin's tenure.

    There is also the question of how effective this 'partial mobilisation' will be in aiding Russia's war effort.

    Draftees are being trained for merely 2 weeks, yes, 2 week, before being sent towards Ukraine.

    There is also concern about how these draftees will impact the morale of professional Russian soldiers, who are already feeling low due to Russia's recent losses in the war zone.

    If people who don't want to be in a war zone, end up in a war zone, how do they impact the morale of soldiers who have been in the frontline since the beginning of the war.

    Will it lower the motivation of the professional soldiers? Or will the added numbers help in increasing their will to fight?

    Regional governments in Russia are attempting to pour water on the rising discontent by offering more money to draftees.

    Moscow residents for example, will get an additional bonus of 50,000 rubles, apart from their salary as a military contractor.

    Despite these moves, a noticeable number of Russian men are trying to flee their country.

    Some Russian men are moving towards the artic border with Norway, the northern most border post on earth. St. Petersburg is more than 1000 miles, by road, from this crossing.

    Other are attempting to cross the border and move into Kazakhstan. These men were stopped from crossing the border and informed that they need to seek permission from military registration and enlistment office, as per reports on Russian state news agency TASS.

    As the cost of leaving the country is so prohibitive, many educated men who are leaving the country, are leaving behind their wives and children as well.

    According to reports, "A 27-year-old Russian reservist who fled to Kazakhstan over the weekend said he had paid 27,000 rubles, around $461, for a flight on Friday from Moscow to Volgograd in Russia’s south, around eight times what it usually costs."

    Currently, whether to allow the men to leave the country or to stop them at the border checkpoints, is arbitrary, depending on the decision of those at the border checkpoints.

    As per a report from the state-controlled RIA Novosti news agency, Sergei Tsekov, a senator from Russia's upper house of the parliament, proposed a law that would bar the exit of all military age Russian men. In other words, a law that directly bans military age Russian men from leaving the country.

    Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov has said that reports of an exodus of draft-age men from Russia are “exaggerated.”

    That is certainly a possibility. Without being on the ground in Russia, it is hard to tell how significant is the resistance against the 'partial mobilisation '.

    Since the announcement of 'partial mobilisation', at least 17 military recruitment centres and government building have suffered attacks from Russian men.

    Get Swarajya in your inbox.