Protests, terror and flight: Russia expert outlines Putin's situation - and his possible end
Created: 09/30/2022, 05:01
By: Maximilian Kettenbach
Facing big problems: The man in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin.
© GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/afp
It is not only the Ukraine front that is worrying Vladimir Putin at the moment.
The problems at home are also serious, analyzes Russia expert Gerhard Mangott.
Munich – There are terrible dramas that are currently taking place in Russia.
A man set himself on fire at a bus station around 200 kilometers south-east of Moscow.
According to witnesses, for fear of having to go to the war front.
In a draft office, a man is said to have shot around because his best friend was drafted.
Videos of men being taken away are circulating on social networks, or showing wives and mothers crying at train and bus stations.
In chat groups, on the other hand, people report how men of draft age are picked up at work or at home without warning.
Images that give the impression of a country in chaos and that are pure poison for Vladimir Putin in the already difficult phase of the Ukraine war.
The Russian President ordered partial mobilization last week.
300,000 reservists are now to be drafted into the army.
It is the step that Putin shied away from for a long time and which could now have fatal consequences for him.
“The current unrest shows that Putin was right to hesitate with partial mobilization for so long.
He knew this would change the lives of Russians.
By then the war was far away.
Now fathers and sons are separated from families.
That shifts the mood against him.
People are just noticing that Russia is not being attacked, but is the real aggressor of the war," says Gerhard Mangott, Professor of International Relations at the University of Innsbruck, the
Munich Merkur of IPPEN.MEDIA.
Russia's partial mobilization fails - that gives a deep insight, says expert Mangott
According to his own statements, the 56-year-old has contacts in the Russian Presidential Office and the Foreign Ministry.
He doesn't want to talk about chaos in the country just yet.
But: “It gives a deep insight when not even a partial mobilization can be successful.
Now he puts it as usual: I am the tsar, my subordinates made the mistakes.” It is apparent that neither the army nor the military administration can carry out Putin's orders as he intended.
The US think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) comes to the same analysis.
Gerhard Mangott, Professor of International Relations at the University of Innsbruck.
The Russia expert talks about Putin's domestic situation.
Since the partial mobilization was announced last week, 260,000 Russian men are said to have left the country.
Putin can no longer afford that.
"He won't let people out of the country much longer, but will ban people from leaving the country," predicts Mangott.
There are already first reports of exit stops.
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The fear of the front is great.
In the Russian republic of Dagestan, resistance to the drafts escalated in several places over the weekend.
Women threw their fists at police officers for fear of losing their husbands.
Meanwhile, long columns of cars are backing up at the borders with Russia's neighboring countries.
Flights abroad are sold out for days or can hardly be paid for far away destinations.
Thousands fled the country by car – for example to neighboring countries such as Kazakhstan or Georgia, where visas are not required.
Finland also reports numerous refugees.
Putin is currently still firmly in the saddle, says Mangott.
He can still be sure of high-ranking support from those close to him, for example from ex-President Dimitri Medvedev.
“The protests are small and more regional.
In the big cities, few people dare to demonstrate.
But he has to be careful that the protests don't spread.” If there were further political mistakes in recruitment, especially in poorer areas of the country, or if the police took massive action against the protests, there would be a risk that he would lose support, believes the Russia expert.
Dramatic farewell for Putin's partial mobilization: A Russian reservist says goodbye to relatives and friends on September 27, 2022 in Saint Petersburg.
Terrorist attack on a school claims numerous lives
The Russian language has already gained a new word: "Mogilizazija" - a mixture of the terms "mobilization" and "grave".
Many Russians are convinced that they are just cannon fodder and should simply be burned for the purposes of a war that even their professional army would fail to achieve.
The “special operation” spread by propaganda has turned into a war that is now creeping into every household in Putin's empire.
Problems inside the country are now making matters worse.
The fatal shooting at a school in the Russian city of Izhevsk on Monday claimed at least 17 lives.
Putin classified the act as an "act of terrorism".
All this is not a good signal to its already unsettled population.
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Even his "bloodhound" is critical - mock referendums could herald Putin's end
It's getting tighter for Putin.
Also because his war is now partly openly criticized.
As recently by local politicians who called for his resignation.
There is also talk of a rift with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
And now even Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Russian republic of Chechnya and commonly known as the "bloodhound," has repeatedly voiced criticism of the Kremlin.
Russia actually has enough resources even without reservists.
There are five million well-prepared people who can handle weapons, he says from the North Caucasus.
"In the event of a disastrous defeat, i.e. if Putin also loses the newly annexed provinces or even Crimea, he should no longer be tenable," Mangott believes.
An open general mobilization will therefore probably not come about.
“Putin is aware of the risk.
The shock that would then go through the population would be much greater," said the expert.
Putin is now trying to motivate his tottering soldiers again with mock referendums.
Mangott believes: “In his speech on September 30, Putin is expected to announce the accession of the four regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia.
But that's nowhere near as great a success as the annexation of Crimea back then, and it won't bring him much popularity among the population.
On the contrary: it increases the pressure.” If Putin loses these areas back to the Ukrainians, he has to explain why he cannot defend “his own” territory.
It could herald Putin's end.