Mobilization in Russia
The answer to Putin can only be battle tanks
A commentary by Denis Trubetskoy, Kyiv
09/22/2022, 8:10 p.m
As long as Putin is in power, he will not leave Ukraine alone. Therefore, the only option for Ukraine is to push him back. For this she needs further support from the West.
When Vladimir Putin gave his hour-long Ukraine speech on February 21, in which he denied the neighboring country’s right to exist, the Ukrainians became more and more nervous. After the British and US secret services had warned of a major Russian invasion in the weeks and months beforehand, which many people in Ukraine received with skepticism, the crude world view that the Russian president presented at such length sounded like a declaration of war. Three days later it was clear that she was exactly that.
Exactly seven months later, on September 21, Putin announced the so-called partial mobilization. Now it was primarily Russia that relived the shock of February 24th. For many Russians, the war of aggression against Ukraine, which they had been watching from the comfort of their sofas, was much closer than it had been before.
The mobilization in Russia was of course also important news for the Ukrainians. It was and is being talked about and discussed. But what was completely missing now: fear of Putin, his sham referendums in the occupied Ukrainian territories and, above all, his nuclear blackmail.
tactics of terror
People in Ukraine have long been unimpressed by Putin’s words and deeds, even though they are directly affected by this war and, after the tragedies of Bucha and Mariupol, have recently been confronted with the terrible images of the mass graves in liberated Izyum. Moreover, following the successful Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Putin has openly resorted to tactics of terror against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure. He doesn’t even hide the fact that the 9/11 attacks on thermal power plants in the south-east of the country were intentional.
Putin obviously wants to exhaust the Ukrainians. He wants them to take to the streets at some point and demand a ceasefire from their government. And after the defeat in Kharkiv, he would like to secure at least the Ukrainian territory that Russia still occupies at the moment. His problem: not only President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, but the entire Ukrainian nation is not interested. In this existential defensive war, the Ukrainians have no alternative but to fight for the occupied territories. As long as Putin is in power, he will not leave Ukraine alone – and he will certainly not stop at the current front line, but at most pause and then strike again.
The risks are borne solely by Ukraine
The only option for Ukraine, and also for the West, is to push him back. This requires even greater military support from the West. For although we have already seen the majority of the combat-ready Russian army at the front, the mobilization will at least in time and partially solve the Russian personnel problem, which was partly responsible for the Russian disaster in the Kharkiv district. The answer to Putin’s escalation can only be new deliveries of heavy weapons to Kyiv – including Western-style battle tanks.
The escalation risks so often invoked in the West are borne solely by Ukraine, and the Ukrainians have been aware of them since the beginning of the war. For example, could Putin use tactical nuclear weapons against a larger concentration of Ukrainian forces? That is not entirely out of the question, and the possibility is also mentioned in the most recent programmatic text by the Ukrainian supreme commander, Valeriy Zalushny. But this shows that the Ukrainians are prepared for all scenarios, both mentally and militarily. In any case, such an attack would involve risks for Russian soldiers themselves and is therefore only moderately likely.
Shortly before the Ukrainian counter-offensive, high-ranking Russian government officials and politicians visited cities like Kupyansk and Izyum in Kharkiv Oblast. “Russia is here forever,” they proclaimed. The statement hasn’t aged well. After the liberation of the northern districts, after the Russians were expelled from the strategically important Snake Island, after the counteroffensive and now after the replacement of the commanders of the Azov regiment, who have always been demonized by Russian propaganda, one thing is clear: whatever Russia says , it only understands a language of strength. Ukraine will no longer rely on any other language, and neither should the West.