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The Mahablog

How Long Will Russians Put Up With This?

The Washington Post is reporting that Russian men are being grabbed off the street and enlisted into the military.

Police and military officers swooped down on a Moscow business center this past week unannounced. They were looking for men to fight in Ukraine — and they seized nearly every one they saw. Some musicians, rehearsing. A courier there to deliver a parcel. A man from a Moscow service agency, very drunk, in his mid-50s, with a walking disability.

“I have no idea why they took him,” said Alexei, who, like dozens of others in the office complex, was rounded up and taken to the nearest military enlistment office, part of a harsh new phase in the Russian drive.

In cities and towns across Russia, men of fighting age are going into hiding to avoid the officials who are seizing them and sending them to fight in Ukraine.

Police and military press-gangs in recent days have snatched men off the streets and outside Metro stations. They’ve lurked in apartment building lobbies to hand out military summonses. They’ve raided office blocks and hostels. They’ve invaded cafes and restaurants, blocking the exits.

I want to know if the bobbleheads on Fox and OAN and whatever who love Vladimir Putin are mentioning this. The Brits stopped using press gangs at least a couple of centuries ago.

Suffering massive military casualties and repeated defeats in Ukraine, Russia has begun cannibalizing its male population. The hard-eyed pundits on state television are demanding more Ukrainian blood and more sacrifice from Russian men who they say have grown too used to soft living.

I’m assuming those hard-eyed pundits aren’t exactly living in caves and hunting their own meat.

Antiwar sentiment could harden as the bodies of soldiers who were deployed just weeks earlier begin returning home for burial. Alexei Martynov, the 29-year-old head of a Moscow government department, was mobilized Sept. 23 and was killed Oct. 10. He was buried last week. Five soldiers from the Southern Urals region, mobilized on Sept. 26 and Sept. 29, were killed in Ukraine in early October, authorities in Chelyabinsk reported.

So they grabbed Alexei Martynov on September 23 and he was KIA on October 10, only 18 days later. They really aren’t bothering to train them. are they?

And then this happened:

MOSCOW—Two recruits opened fire at a Russian military training ground near the border with Ukraine on Saturday, leaving 11 people dead and 15 injured, the state news agency TASS reported. 

The shootings happened during a live-fire training exercise in the Belgorod region. The assailants opened fire with small arms before they in turn were fatally shot, the report said, citing the Russia’s Ministry of Defense. 

TASS quoted ministry officials as calling the incident a terrorist attack and said the two gunmen were volunteers and citizens of a country from the Commonwealth of Independent States, a grouping of former Soviet republics. The report didn’t specify which country the men came from and whether they were included in the toll of 11 dead. 

Yeah, I bet those guys “volunteered” the same way men were “volunteering” in Moscow.

We see also that the Russians are not good at public relations.

Conductor Yuriy Kerpatenko declined to take part in a concert “intended by the occupiers to demonstrate the so-called ‘improvement of peaceful life’ in Kherson”, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The concert on 1 October was intended to feature the Gileya chamber orchestra, of which Kerpatenko was the principal conductor, but he “categorically refused to cooperate with the occupants”, the statement said.

So, the Russians entered the conductor’s home and shot him dead, which is now in the news around the world. Like I said; they don’t grasp how PR works.

There are a lot of analyses saying that Russia’s recent escalation is more desperate than calculated. It’s all they’ve got. See:

Russia’s airstrikes, intended to show force, reveal another weakness

How Putin’s Latest Attempts to Escalate in Ukraine Have Backfired

Russia’s escalation won’t turn tide of the war, experts say

Unfortunately, now we’re seeing that Iran is sending missiles and drones to Russia, which probably won’t do anything but keep this horror show going on longer.

24 thoughts on “How Long Will Russians Put Up With This?

  1. IMO: It really IS bad over there in Russia!

    BTW: Russians may suck at PR, but they're not irrational morons over there.

    So how can I tell it's bad?

    Well, the fact that they're "pressing" guys in Moscow and other larger (and more sophisticated) cities, is what tells me they've already gotten about as many  men as they (reasonably?) can squeeze jout of the villages, towns, and really tiny settlements (it's a really big f*cking country!).

    An imbecile like tRUMP would start with the more populated areas. 

    Putin would know that no matter how much you terrorize your citizens, they will notice changes. 

    And so will any press (media). 

    So if you start these kinds of desperate conscriptions, you start with the Podunk places, not Moscow.

    A lot less media in and around Podunk v. Moscow.

    So, this tells me Putin's in some trouble.  

    I think everybody knows that.

    What none of us has any ideas about, is how much trouble, and what repurcussions there'll be.

    If any…

  2. Great interview of Nina Krushcheva, the granddaughter of the Soviet premier. She just returned from Russia, and describes it in despairing, Orwellian terms.

    This is a country where you can get jailed for any reason, whose population has lived for generations under absolutist rule of one kind or another. And so any revolt or protest against the authorities is remarkable, taking great risks, including their lives.

    I follow several Russian v-bloggers, and they report that apartment rents are through the roof in nearby expat landing spots, such as Tbilisi, Georgia, as you’d expect, when a million people try to leave. Being young and not rich, many of them are forced to return.

    It’s an interesting situation, in that Krushcheva reports that about 20% of the population is for Putin, about 30% are against, and 50% just want to be left alone. When you live under such a repressive regime it’s easy to join the 50%, and live your life under the radar. Moreover the older you are, the more habituated you are to living this way, and so it’s no surprise that the older people aren’t the ones agitating against Putin. He is going to tear Russia apart, the longer the conflict goes on.

  3. A lot of the Russian psyche is built around swagger, for lack of a better term. I was in Russia in 2000, when morale was not good. My wife grew up in Russian communism and served in the Russian army, well before that. Overnight, the social contract of communism was broken and the empire shattered. 

    Putin did a Ronald Regan and told Russians they were badass again, a message they were desperate to hear. Russians are NOT eager to accept that they are getting their butts kicked by Ukraine. As with the US whenever we get stuck in a war with no exit strategy, the cry is that we have to stay or the thousands who have died, did so in vain.

    As far as I can tell, the military is decimated at the top and bottom. When the war went badly, Putin took over and fired generals as if he had an endless supply. Putin is not a military man and I'd guesss he was lied to from the moment he decided to take Ukraine – so Putin never had the military resources his first batch of generals promised. (Double-whammy – to have been conned about how weak Ukraine was before the war, and lied to about the capability of the Russian army.)

    I see no sign that the Russian military-industrial complex ramped up. They are buying arms from other countries to make terror attacks on Kiev and using cruise missiles on targets worth less than the missiles. I haven't read that Russia is producing tanks to relace what they are losing.

    Putin has discovered what logistics means, for the lack of it.

    The desparation of Putin to engage in peace talks makes a different kind of sense in that light. Putin needs time to build up the capability to restart the war on terms he might be able to win  I don't think Putin can produce trained soldiers or ordinance in the volume he needs to take on Ukraine.

    So Putin's only chance is to slow down the war AND cut the lifeline of supplies to Ukraine from the US and NATO. Enter US elections: if the GOP wins the House, they might turn off the tap of US weapons. The winter in Europe might provide Putin leverage as the primary source of heating oil and gas to NATO countries. 

    • So Putin's only chance is to slow down the war AND cut the lifeline of supplies to Ukraine from the US and NATO. Enter US elections: if the GOP wins the House, they might turn off the tap of US weapons. The winter in Europe might provide Putin leverage as the primary source of heating oil and gas to NATO countries. 

      Sad that the future of Ukraine may depend on U.S. voters. Well, the whole planet depends on U.S. voters, which should scare the stuffing out of all of us. 

  4. So, the Russians entered the conductor’s home and shot him dead, which is now in the news around the world. Like I said; they don’t grasp how PR works.

    This is what the right would like to do, and they have said as much.  Which is why they idolize Putin.

  5. First, I want to say that I dread writing this.  I like & respect Barbara and my fellow Commenters here, and I don't to lose whatever respect you may have for me. 

    But I must plead with you to be careful about the information we here in the USA are getting from all our major news sources.  PBS, MSNBC, CNN, the NYT, the WaPo, etc – which are generally reliable & accurate sources – have been very biased in their reporting on the war in Ukraine.  I don't claim to know *why* they are doing this, but I can give some important examples.

    First, US media usually start the story as if history began the day Russia invaded Ukraine, ignoring important background and Russia's stated reasons for the attack.  Those include:

    – fear of NATO/US Nukes so close to Russia's heartland.  (This was exactly what scared the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis!)

    – fear of NATO/US/West attempts to take over their Black Sea navy base in Sevastopol (Crimea).

    – protecting ethnic Russians in Donbas.

    – fear of Ukrainian "nazis" attacking ethnic Russians in Donbas & other parts of Ukraine.


    There is evidence that many of Russia's fears in these matters are well-founded.  When the Cold War ended, NATO lost its raison d'etre as a defensive alliance; sadly, it's morphed into an offensive alliance, helping with US occupations in the Middle East & Central Asia – far from the "North Atlantic".  We broke promises that NATO would never expand Eastwards beyond Germany's borders.  We (NED? CIA?) helped engineer the Maidan Revolution/Coup which overthrew the *legally elected* Yanukovitch government.  Ukraine has violated several aspects of the Minsk Accords, and continues to shell the city of Donetsk.


    But my point is *not* about Russian justifications for invading Ukraine; it is that US news sources painted a completely one-sided picture of it.

    And since the invasion, that has only gotten worse. 

    Some examples:

    – Blindly parroting anonymous "Western Security officials" in blaming Russia for blowing up the NordStream pipelines, when other actors had far more reason to do it.

    – Using weasel-words to leave the impression that Russia has been shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuke plant, long after they *occupied* it with their own troops, when it's Ukraine that has been shelling the plant to keep Russia from redirecting the electricity to Crimea.

    – framing Russia's recent missile attacks on Ukraine are indiscriminate attacks on civilians.  The attacks were clearly targeted at electrical infrastructure; some civilians got killed, but that was clearly *not* the point, because only (yes, *only*) a few dozen people got killed by dozens of missiles.

    – ignoring the ongoing shelling of civilian areas of Donetsk (City) by Ukrainian forces.

    – reporting on the effects of Sanctions vastly overstates the damage to Russia's economy and understates the damage to Europe.

    – blaming Russian "blockade" of Ukrainian food exports for rising food prices in the Global South, when US Sanctions on Russian exports has blocked far more food & fertilizer from flowing through the Black Sea.

    – just now heard on NPR that Russia attacked "apartment buildings, playgrounds, electrical infrastructure" in Kiev with "suicide drones" as part of a "terror" campaign, and four people were killed.  But if Russia is targeting *apartment buildings* to terrorize Ukrainian civilians, there would be hundreds or thousands of deaths… not FOUR.


    We are NOT getting clear, unbiased reporting on the war in Ukraine.  We are getting propaganda designed to support more extensive and more direct involvement by the US. This not the first time this has happened, of course, even in our lifetimes.  Sadly, similar biased reporting enabled the US invasion of Iraq, but most Democrats & Progressives recognized that we were being lied to, and opposed the invasion.  (And then the same media chose not to cover the massive protests against the invasion…).  Sadly, the Trump years have made us more vulnerable to group-think, blindly rejecting the stupidity of "the other side" (Trump, Carlson, etc), and associating Putin/Russia with Trump. 


    I see people I respect and identify with being manipulated into supporting a war, and I don't like it.  Please, be careful about blindly believing what we're hearing from US media on this issue.

    • There's one point where I agree with this post illustrated in the quote, "The first casualty of war is the truth." This is one forum where most readers are cynical about any one source or narrative. I think most of us are and continue to be on solid footing regarding out evaluation.

      Unless someone has a news report I missed, no Russian civilians have been killed in Russia during the Ukraine conflict. If you go with confirmed figures…

      "Jul 25, 2022 — a total of 5,237 killed (2,019 men, 1,379 women, 143 girls, and 164 boys, as well as 41 children and 1,491 adults whose sex is yet unknown) "

      That's the UN count of bodies of civilians. I presume they count skulls of bodies of civilians too disintegrated to determine gender.

      I'm sick of the argument that NATO "poked the bear" until Russia had no option. Manure. 

      In 1994 the Budapest Memorandum of Security Assurances for Ukraine and later the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russia recognized Crimea as part of Ukraine. There are ethnic Russians in Crimea, have been for centuries – Russia has as much claim on Crimea as Mexico has on Texas. 

      The Budapest Memorandum was negotiated because the Soviet Union fell so fast that significant numbers of nukes were in Ukraine (to threaten Europe.) Moscow wanted them back and the world didn't want Ukraine to sell nuclear weapons in a time of chaos. A deal was struck – Russia guaranteed the autonomy of Ukraine, that they would not invade or annex, and Ukraine let Russia have the missiles. Got that? If Ukraine had NOT given back the nukes, they'd be in a position to turn Moscow into glowing radioactive dust. (Which is not mu wish.) They kept the deal – Moscow did not.

      None of the countries of the former Soviet Union wanted to be under Russia's thumb again. They petitioned for membership in the only organization that would shut down an invasion – NATO. Of the countries that joined NATO, none of them have nukes in their boundaries. (But in 1994, Russia was as close to the border with nukes as they could get.) For their protection, Russia does not want nukes in those border countries – and there aren't – but when the USSR was positioning nukes, it was a different story. 

      Crimea has a Russian ethnic majority. I wonder if they weren't moved in after Stalin starved three million Ukrainians to death in making Ukraine part of his communist dystopia. Russia may claim there's a statute of limitations on the resentment Kyiv has for Moscow. I might feel differently if it had been my land Russia stole. Once Ukraine established sovereignty, the ethnic Russians were pushed hard to assimilate or go back to Russia. Sometimes the message was delivered with violence, It's a domestic problem within the borders of Ukraine. Putin has no more business rolling troops across the border to support ethnic Russians in Crimea than Putin has to invade New York City to protect the Russian residents of "Little Russia."

      Plenty of folks are doing Putin's bidding, knowingly or in ignorance, trying to get a cease-fire for 'negotiations.' The cries for peace got really shrill when Ukraine started taking back territory. If Putin wants to talk peace, the UN should give Russia the chance to make the case the day AFTER all Russian soldiers withdraw to the boundaries set in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Unless you can point to a more recent mutual agreement signed in good faith by Russia and Ukraine.

      •   <i>Crimea has a Russian ethnic majority. I wonder if they weren't moved in after Stalin starved three million Ukrainians to death in making Ukraine part of his communist dystopia. </i>


        Crimea never had a Ukrainian majority.  What Stalin did in WWII was deport most or all of the ethnic Tatars to the Central Asian republics under the suspicion that they were collaborating with the Nazis.  Whether they were or it was just Stalin's paranoia in action, I don't know.

    • I remember living in a flyover state in the 80's reading "zines" and the "alternative media" so we could get a picture of what the actual cool kids were doing … as opposed to what Dick Clark was telling the billboard chart-influencers on network TV what was hip with the kids these days (dear god, we wanted out).

      As always, a healthy bull sh*t meter was needed because, eventually, in the 90's "alternative" became a cool on its own and the marketers latched on and marketing latched on the the "alternative" everything pep and it was coooool to have the inside info on the bad things govt was doing and went to chemtrails bottom-feeding on vanity (not like in the 80's where the GOP's Iran/Contra was obfuscated by the same cast of goons that sold weapons to the enemy and then funded death squads who now support the serial criminals Flint-stones to do the dirty work). And the old gray lady is to blame along with her conspirator, the Bezos blog, and, now, being antagonistic towards everything for vanity and without regard the facts is the new virtue signaling and super cool.

      Mostly, knowing the difference between marketing and facts is getting harder and harder.


    • Russia was under no threat from anybody before Putin invaded Ukraine. Nobody was even thinking of invading Russia. NATO was not. The U.S. was not. Ukraine certainly was not. The only reason Russia invaded Ukraine is that Vladimir Putin wanted to. That's an indisputable fact. 

      And NATO is no more an "offensive alliance" than I'm Brad Pitt. Get real. 

      News stories coming from a war are often confusing and wrong. That doesn't make them propaganda. I've done news reporting; it's hard to get facts right in a breaking news story even if you're covering a house fire or a traffic accident, never mind a war.

      I don't know who blew up the fool pipeline, but neither does Tucker Carlson.  

  6. It is hard for me to comment on Russia, as my ancestors pulled up stakes there many generations ago.  Family lore has it that the Russian authorities reneged on a promise of freedom from conscription.  All I know is that to immigrate to halfway around the earth into a portion the great American desert, recently purchased from France had to result from a serious need to escape.  Our family knows little about why they escaped from a more eastern European area a few generations earlier, but one would guess that was not an authority they wanted to fight and die for either.  Little good comes from war.  The only good I see from this one is the fact that Ukrainians also still see Russian authority as something to fight against and to resist and to avoid fighting for.   It lends confirmation that my ancestor's decision was a wise one.  

    It is fun to ponder how much of my distain for propaganda and "ditto heads" might come from a genetic or family cultural bias that goaded their exodus.  We need to strongly oppose the current mutation of what used to be the GOP which now entertains a pro Putin wing and a reactionary bias toward a one-party authoritarianism.  They too value disdain for intellectuals, artists, cultural diversity, or really anyone that does not toe the ever-changing sea of dimwit dogma they propagate.  At least they are off of the Grover Norquist and Arthur Laffer bandwagon, though their replacements uber heroes seem to be even worse.  It is good to remember that bad politics can get you COVID, conscripted, and/or killed.  At best you can expect a dreary and dark existence in the rabbit hole that is the current mainstream GOP.  Beware and be smart. 

  7. I think Doug summed it up pretty well. There is no valid excuse for any nation to invade another sovereign nation and annex part of its territory by "conquest".  No valid excuse ever.

    If Chinese-Americans in San Francisco were to be discriminated against and subject to terrorist attacks by white supremacists, would China then have justification for invading the San Francisco peninsula and annexing it? Of course not. That takes care of the red herring comments about ethnic Russians in Crimea justifying Putin's annexation. 


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