Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech announcing partial mobilization caused stormy reactions throughout Russia. Prominent lawmakers and pundits voiced their enthusiastic support on state television, but behind the hubbub lurk palpable concerns.
Even the most dedicated pro-Kremlin propagandists could not hide their apprehension at the obvious shortcomings of the Russian economy and its military-industrial complex. In a show on state television on Wednesday 60 minutesthe studio even appeared to be in disarray, with a large puddle of water clearly visible near one of the podiums.
Senior military analyst Mikhail Khodaryonok further undermined Putin’s statement when he remarked during the broadcast, “Mobilization is the face of the nation.” The face seems to be missing teeth, with obvious problems relating to the lack of military equipment and technology lamented by even the most rabid propagandists. Hodarjonok pointed out: “The question that is no less important than others is how armed and equipped these people will be… They should receive modern uniforms, modern equipment, rations, medical kits, items related to support and logistics, modern weapons… It’s just inappropriate.”
Those lucky enough not to face mobilization should contribute in other ways, military expert Igor Korotchenko said during his appearance on the show.
“It is extremely important that our new military divisions that are being formed today receive the necessary equipment and weapons,” he emphasized. “Since we are talking about the future of our nation, there must be a consolidation of all available resources. We should create a special military operation support fund. Our socially responsible prominent oligarchy should share its profits so that our frontline fighters are properly armed and equipped.”
Korotchenko continued: “Everyone should play their role. We cannot allow some to enjoy luxury in Rublyovka [a prestigious residential area in the western suburbs of Moscow], while others defend their homeland. Those who are fattened economically must share their resources so that we can supply our troops with everything they need.”
However, it appears that Russia’s elite – including many top pro-Kremlin propagandists – would rather cheer from the sidelines than join Russia’s brutal and bloody imperial enterprise. Host of 60 minutes Evgenij Popov pondered on the air whether he was susceptible to mobilization, with an expression devoid of any signs of feeling particularly happy.
Dmitry Nizovtsev, the host of Popular Politics, a YouTube channel run by supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, called the sons of Russian President Dmitry Peskov’s press secretary and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin a joke. Neither Nikolai Peskov nor Alexei Mishustin expressed a desire to fight on the front lines, and both hurried to end the call. Fortunately, the rich and well-connected in Russia will not have to risk their lives and bodies to serve the Motherland.
Still, that didn’t stop many of these talking heads from voicing their opinions verbally support for the Kremlin’s new decisions by millions across the country.
In the second show of 60 minutes, The head of the Defense Committee of the State Duma, Andrey Kartapolov, tried to convince the sour-faced panelists how lucky they were to “live in such wonderful times” and that Russia was “becoming the axis of the new world order.” Clearly out of luck, Dmitry Abzalov, director of the Center for Strategic Communications, questioned the readiness of the Russian economy for what was to come.
“Obviously, a partial mobilization has been declared because without it we cannot achieve our goals.”
In the hours before Putin’s announcement, another member of the State Duma, Andrei Gurulyov, was brimming with excitement. “It is clear to me that today’s decision is the beginning of the end of Ukraine. That’s it, that nation no longer exists,” he said on the show An evening with Vladimir Solovyov. “Ukraine’s history is ending and maybe that’s a good thing.”
In the weeks leading up to the announcement, Kremlin state television appeared to be laying the groundwork for the mobilization. State TV show 60 minuteswhich spent many months mocking Ukrainian troops and mocking Western weaponry, has suddenly reversed course, with host Olga Skabeeva unexpectedly admitting that the Ukrainian military was a “powerful” force and that NATO’s weapons were “very effective”.
Appearing on Wednesday’s show An evening with Vladimir Solovyov, head of RT Margarita Simonyan admitted that Putin’s mobilization is a forced measure, prompted by the military defeats of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine: “Am I glad that we declared a partial mobilization? No, I’m not happy… Apparently a partial mobilization has been declared because without it we cannot achieve our goals.”