Putin Has Left the World No Other Option But Regime Change

Daily Beast

Putin Has Left the World No Other Option But Regime Change

David Rothkopf – October 1, 2022

Photo Illustration by Erin O'Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty

Vladimir Putin must go.

His demented Kremlin speech Friday, during a ceremony in which he feebly asserted Russia was annexing portions of Ukraine, made the strongest case for the necessity of regime change in Moscow that any world leader has yet to make.

But it has been clear the Russian dictator must be removed from office for a long time now.

It has been clear because Putin’s actions and rhetoric demonstrate day in and day out that Ukraine can never be secure as long as he remains in office. It has been clear because none of Russia’s neighbors can be secure with a megalomaniacal lunatic next door who speaks of Russian empire and constantly threatens to rewrite the borders of sovereign states.- ADVERTISEMENT -https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-10-1/html/r-sf-flx.html

Italy’s Far-Right Victory Is a (Small) Win for Putin

It has been clear because the world can’t be stable as long as the man who controls the planet’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons is one whose power is unchecked at home, who shows such contempt for both international law and human decency, and whose ambitions are so untethered to reality.

Justice also requires that Putin leave office. He is a serial war criminal, one of the worst the world has seen in the modern era. He has laid waste to a sovereign nation. He is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. He has embraced the language and practice of genocide. His armies have committed war crimes. Mass graves attest to his brutality. What is more, his crimes are not limited to the human suffering he has unleashed upon Ukraine. Other violations of fundamental laws and myriad atrocities can be traced to decisions he has made—from Russia’s leveling of Grozny in Chechnya to Russia’s active support for and participation in horrors in Syria; from the invasion of Georgia to Putin’s murderous campaign against dissidents within his own country.

Putin, for years, has provided evidence not only to international prosecutors but to every sentient being on the planet that he is not a legitimate leader. He does not deserve to be swathed in the protections normally accorded to foreign heads of state. He has no more claim on them than did past monsters—from Hitler to Saddam to Qaddafi, from Pol Pot to Milosevic.

The dead of Bucha and Melitipol or Izium make that case with their absence. So do the victims of Russian torture, of bombed hospitals, schools and train stations, of mass kidnapping, and of unceasing terror being visited by Russian missiles, artillery and troops upon innocents—victims of the misfortune of living next door to one of history’s most repulsive miscreants.

No one could listen to Putin’s rambling Friday rant and draw any conclusion other than the fact that the longer Putin remains in office, the greater the damage that he will do.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Russian President Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian regional separatist leaders attends the annexation ceremony of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, September 30, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Contributor/Getty Images</div>
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian regional separatist leaders attends the annexation ceremony of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, September 30, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.Contributor/Getty Images

If the absurd spectacle of a “signing ceremony” asserting Russian control of Ukrainian territory featuring Kremlin stooges and nationalistic chants did not chill observers to the bone, then Putin’s belligerent language condemning “the enemy” in the West and his intimations that he might be within his rights to use nuclear weapons certainly should. He mocked international law. He condemned U.S. “satanism.” He called on Ukraine to negotiate but said that the fate of “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson” was not on the table, that they would be parts of Russia “forever.”

When President Joe Biden said of Putin in May, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” it was followed by a swift “clarification” from the White House that the president “was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”

But as we have gradually come to learn, Biden’s seemingly spontaneous comments on crucial issues of international policy to which he has devoted decades of study—whether they concern Putin or Taiwan—are not gaffes. They instead are expressions of common sense, acknowledgements of reality that diplomats may wish were unspoken, that cannot be the “official” policy of the U.S., but that are signs that the president understands clearly the reality on the ground and U.S. interests.

That is good because tiptoeing around the threat posed by Putin, hoping that accommodating him would lead to moderation in his behavior certainly has not worked. Indeed with every respectful, restrained response to Putin’s aggression or abuses, we have only seen an escalation of his offenses.

As Bad as the World Looks Right Now, It’s Actually Worse

The “measured” responses to his aggression of the Bush or the Obama years did not work. Nor did the slavering obsequiousness of former President Donald Trump. Indeed, the ostpolitik of Angela Merkel and the vacillations of French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders have actually aided and empowered Putin.

No doubt Putin’s allies—like the talking heads at Fox News, the leaders of the MAGA caucus on Capitol Hill, and Putinistas across Europe—will warn that to even speak of the need to remove Putin from office will provoke him, perhaps even lead him to unleash nuclear weapons in Ukraine or against the West. How do we know that? Because that was the response to Biden’s moment of public honesty and realism on this issue.

Many others, including some well-respected foreign policy experts, suggested we should not “corner” Putin with a public stance demanding his removal.

Some of those experts correctly observe that the U.S. has a checkered history seeking regime change. They argue that there are no good alternatives to Putin, and so getting rid of him might produce an even worse outcome, whether that is the chaos associated with a leadership void or a more dangerous leader.

But go back and listen to his Friday speech. It makes clear that we are well past the point where the dangers of his remaining in power are greater than the dangers that might be caused by his fall.

Further, removing the world’s autocrats and thug heads of state has actually not generally produced worse successors. That was certainly true in the cases of Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic, Pol Pot, and many others.

Next, acknowledging that Putin must go is not the same as making regime change a matter of public policy. For governments it can (and largely should) remain an unexpressed goal.

That said, certain sanctions imposed on Russia should remain in place until Russia changes key policies and positions that are indelibly associated with Putin, which in effect will mean until Putin is gone. Certain defensive postures of the west should remain in place until the threat from Russia has abated. We can do more than we currently are to help covertly support Russia’s opposition, especially those whose values align with ours.

Perhaps most importantly, we can ensure that any sort of lasting Russian victory in Ukraine is not an option and that Putin’s terms will never be met, his aggression never rewarded.

With such policies, we can actively encourage the people of Russia to recognize that their country will not have a future as long as Putin remains in power. Putin is assisting on this front. By undertaking a massive military conscription campaign, one that may call up as many as one million troops, who will then be under-equipped, under-trained, and likely victims of a war they did not seek against neighbors who are not in any ways their enemies, he has already lit the fuse on a potential national backlash. Millions and millions of Russians will increasingly feel the pain and loss associated with Putin’s war in ways that they did not before, in ways that Russian propaganda cannot hide or dress up.

Putin’s Headed Toward Defeat in Ukraine. The Only Question Is How Bad a Loser He’ll Be.

Protests in Russia are already growing bolder.

Celebrities and business leaders are speaking out more clearly. How long will it be before the security services that surround and protect Putin begin to see the fact that he is a threat to their well-being, to their lives, to the futures of their families?

Accepting the reality that Putin must go is just common sense at this point. Recognizing that reality, we should embrace policies that encourage the conditions that will make it come to pass. We should also prepare for the consequences of such a change and make sure to send Moscow the message that Russia’s neighbors and the community of nations welcome a more responsible Russia—while also making clear that we are ready to defend ourselves against one that makes the mistake of continuing (or making worse) Putin’s policies.

As for making the case to the Russian people that they must act, we need not do that. Putin, with speeches like Friday’s and self-inflicted catastrophes like Ukraine, is already doing that far more persuasively than we could hope to do.

How a party of neo-fascist roots won big in Italy

Associated Press

How a party of neo-fascist roots won big in Italy

Nicole Winfield – September 26, 2022

FILE - Right-wing party Brothers of Italy's leader Giorgia Meloni, center-right on stage, addresses a rally as she starts her political campaign ahead of Sept. 25 general elections, in Ancona, Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. The Brothers of Italy party has won the most votes in Italy’s national election. The party has its roots in the post-World War II neo-fascist Italian Social Movement. Giorgia Meloni has taken Brothers of Italy from a fringe far-right group to Italy’s biggest party. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)
Right-wing party Brothers of Italy’s leader Giorgia Meloni, center-right on stage, addresses a rally as she starts her political campaign ahead of Sept. 25 general elections, in Ancona, Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. The Brothers of Italy party has won the most votes in Italy’s national election. The party has its roots in the post-World War II neo-fascist Italian Social Movement. Giorgia Meloni has taken Brothers of Italy from a fringe far-right group to Italy’s biggest party. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)
FILE - Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, center, hands on hips, with members of the Fascist Party, in Rome, Italy, Oct. 28, 1922, following their March on Rome. The Brothers of Italy party, the biggest vote-getter in Italy's national election, has its roots in the post-World War II neofascist Italian Social Movement and proudly kept its symbol the tricolor flame as the visible and symbolic proof of its inheritance as it went from a fringe far-right group to the biggest party in Italian politics. (AP Photo, File)
Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, center, hands on hips, with members of the Fascist Party, in Rome, Italy, Oct. 28, 1922, following their March on Rome. The Brothers of Italy party, the biggest vote-getter in Italy’s national election, has its roots in the post-World War II neofascist Italian Social Movement and proudly kept its symbol the tricolor flame as the visible and symbolic proof of its inheritance as it went from a fringe far-right group to the biggest party in Italian politics. (AP Photo, File)

ROME (AP) — The Brothers of Italy party, which won the most votes in Italy’s national election, has its roots in the post-World War II neo-fascist Italian Social Movement.

Keeping the movement’s most potent symbol, the tricolor flame, Giorgia Meloni has taken Brothers of Italy from a fringe far-right group to Italy’s biggest party.

A century after Benito Mussolini’s 1922 March on Rome, which brought the fascist dictator to power, Meloni is poised to lead Italy’s first far-right-led government since World War II and Italy’s first woman premier.

HOW DID POST-FASCISM BEGIN IN ITALY?

The Italian Social Movement, or MSI, was founded in 1946 by Giorgio Almirante, a chief of staff in Mussolini’s last government. It drew fascist sympathizers and officials into its ranks following Italy’s role in the war, when it was allied with the Nazis and then liberated by the Allies.

Throughout the 1950-1980s, the MSI remained a small right-wing party, polling in the single digits. But historian Paul Ginsborg has noted that its mere survival in the decades after the war “served as a constant reminder of the potent appeal that authoritarianism and nationalism could still exercise among the southern students, urban poor and lower middle classes.”

The 1990s brought about a change under Gianfranco Fini, Almirante’s protege who nevertheless projected a new moderate face of the Italian right. When Fini ran for Rome mayor in 1993, he won a surprising 46.9% of the vote — not enough to win but enough to establish him as a player. Within a year, Fini had renamed the MSI the National Alliance.

It was in those years that a young Meloni, who was raised by a single mother in a Rome working-class neighborhood, first joined the MSI’s youth branch and then went onto lead the youth branch of Fini’s National Alliance.

DOES THAT MEAN MELONI IS NEO-FASCIST?

Fini was dogged by the movement’s neo-fascist roots and his own assessment that Mussolini was the 20th century’s “greatest statesman.” He disavowed that statement, and in 2003 visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel. There, he described Italy’s racial laws, which restricted Jews’ rights, as part of the “absolute evil” of the war.

Meloni, too, had praised Mussolini in her youth but visited Yad Vashem in 2009 when she was a minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s last government. Writing in her 2021 memoir “I Am Giorgia,” she described the experience as evidence of how “a genocide happens step by step, a little at a time.”

During the campaign, Meloni was forced to confront the issue head-on, after the Democrats warned that she represented a danger to democracy.

“The Italian right has handed fascism over to history for decades now, unambiguously condemning the suppression of democracy and the ignominious anti-Jewish laws,” she said in a campaign video.

HOW DID BROTHERS OF ITALY EMERGE?

Meloni, who proudly touts her roots as an MSI militant, has said the first spark of creating Brothers of Italy came after Berlusconi resigned as premier in 2011, forced out by a financial crisis over Italy’s soaring debt and his own legal problems.

Meloni refused to support Mario Monti, who was tapped by Italy’s president to try to form a technocratic government to reassure international financial markets. Meloni couldn’t stand what she believed was external pressure from European capitals to dictate internal Italian politics.

Meloni co-founded the party in 2012, naming it after the first words of the Italian national anthem. “A new party for an old tradition,” Meloni wrote.

Brothers of Italy would only take in single-digit results in its first decade. The European Parliament election in 2019 brought Brothers of Italy 6.4% — a figure that Meloni says “changed everything.”

As the leader of the only party in opposition during Mario Draghi’s 2021-2022 national unity government, her popularity soared, with Sunday’s election netting it 26%.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PARTY’S LOGO?

The party has at the center of its logo the red, white and green flame of the original MSI that remained when the movement became the National Alliance. While less obvious than the bundle of sticks, or fasces, that was the prominent symbol of Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, the tricolor flame is nevertheless a powerful image that ties the current party to its past.

“Political logos are a form of branding, no different than those aimed at consumers,” said Rutgers University professor T. Corey Brennan, who recently wrote “Fasces: A History of Rome’s Most Dangerous Political Symbol.”

He recalled that when Almirante made his final MSI campaign pitch to voters in the 1948 election at Rome’s Spanish Steps, he put the party’s flame symbol on top of the obelisk and illuminated it with floodlights.

“You can make whatever you want out of a flame, but everybody understood that Almirante was making a deeply emotional appeal to keep the spirit of fascism alive,” he said.

HOW DO ITALIANS FEEL ABOUT IT?

In general, the party’s neo-fascist roots appear to be of more concern abroad than at home. Some historians explain that by noting a certain historical amnesia here and Italians’ general comfort living with the relics of fascism as evidence that Italy never really repudiated the Fascist Party and Mussolini in the same way Germany repudiated National Socialism and Hitler.

While Germany went through a long and painful process reckoning with its past, Italians have in many ways simply turned a willful blindness to their own.

Historian David Kertzer of Brown University notes that there are 67 institutes for the study of the Resistance to Fascism in Italy, and virtually no center for the study of Italian Fascism.

In addition, Mussolini-era architecture and monuments are everywhere: from the EUR neighborhood in southern Rome to the Olympic training center on the Tiber River, with its obelisk still bearing Mussolini’s name.

The Italian Constitution bars the reconstitution of the Fascist party, but far-right groups still display the fascist salute and there continues to be an acceptance of fascist symbols, said Brennan.

“You don’t have to look very hard for signs,” Brennan said in a phone interview. “Fully a quarter of all manhole covers in Rome still have the fasces on them.”

DOES THAT MEAN ITALIANS SUPPORT FASCISM?

If history is any guide, one constant in recent political elections is that Italians vote for change, with a desire for something new seemingly overtaking traditional political ideology in big pendulum shifts, said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs.

Tocci said the Brothers of Italy’s popularity in 2022 was evidence of this “violent” swing that is more about Italian dissatisfaction than any surge in neo-fascist or far-right sentiment.

“I would say the main reason why a big chunk of that — let’s say 25-30% — will vote for this party is simply because it’s the new kid on the block,” she said.

Meloni still speaks reverently about the MSI and Almirante, even if her rhetoric can change to suit her audience.

This summer, speaking in perfect Spanish, she thundered at a rally of Spain’s hard-right Vox party: “Yes to the natural family. No to the LGBT lobby. Yes to sexual identity. No to gender ideology.”

Back home on the campaign trail, she projected a much more moderate tone and appealed for unity in her victory speech Monday.

“Italy chose us,” she said. “We will not betray it, as we never have.”

Sabrina Sergi contributed to this report.

Kremlin says no decisions taken on border closure amid mobilization

Reuters

Kremlin says no decisions taken on border closure amid mobilisation

September 26, 2022

Russian reservists depart for military bases during mobilisation of troops, in Bataysk
Russian reservists depart for military bases during mobilization of troops, in Bataysk
Crossings from Russia at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars station in Georgia
Crossings from Russia at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars station in Georgia
Crossings from Russia at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars station in Georgia
Crossings from Russia at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars station in Georgia
Crossings from Russia at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars station in Georgia
Crossings from Russia at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars station in Georgia
Russian reservists depart for military bases during mobilisation of troops, in Bataysk
Russian reservists depart for military bases during mobilization of troops, in Bataysk
Russian reservists depart for military bases during mobilisation of troops, in Bataysk
Russian reservists depart for military bases during mobilization of troops, in Bataysk

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday that no decisions had been taken on closing Russia’s borders, amid an exodus of military-age men since President Vladimir Putin declared a partial mobilization last Wednesday.

Asked about the possibility of border closures in a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “I don’t know anything about this. At the moment, no decisions have been taken on this.”

Peskov also acknowledged that some call-ups had been issued in error, saying mistakes were being corrected by regional governors and the ministry of defence.

Peskov said: “There have been cases when the decree is violated … These cases of non-compliance with the required criteria are being eliminated.”

Russian media have reported a string of cases of elderly or medically exempt men being called up for service in Ukraine. Regional governors in Dagestan and Buryatia, two regions that have seen aggressive mobilisations, have said that mistakes were made in the initial rollout.

The comments come amid rising fears of a border closure, with Russia’s frontiers seeing an unprecedented outflow of military-aged men since the partial mobilisation was declared last week.

On Monday, a senior lawmaker said that Russian borders should be closed to draft-eligible men amid the exodus.

“Everyone who is of conscription age should be banned from travelling abroad in the current situation,” Sergei Tsekov, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, told RIA news agency.

Russian media based abroad, including news sites Meduza and Novaya Gazeta Europe, have reported that the Kremlin is planning to close the country’s borders for draft-aged men. Such reports have not appeared on the main media within Russia, where all independent outlets have been shut and reporting that differs from official accounts is banned.

On Sunday, Novaya Gazeta reported that 261,000 men had left the country since partial mobilisation was declared, citing an unnamed source in Russia’s presidential administration.

Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov said that border guards at Russia’s only operational crossing point with Georgia had since Sunday stopped some people from exiting, citing the law on mobilisation. The local interior ministry on Sunday said there was a queue of 2,300 cars at the Verkhny Lars crossing.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports of men being turned back at the border.

Russia’s economy will ‘die by winter’ because of military mobilization

Fortune

Russia’s economy will ‘die by winter’ because of military mobilization

Yvonne Lau – September 26, 2022

In the seven months since Russia invaded Ukraine, some have argued that the international sanctions levied against Russia weren’t strong enough as Russians continued to travel, shop, party—and generally lead a normal life.

Now, an action by Russian President Vladimir Putin could be the catalyst that brings the war home to Russians and plunges the economy into real catastrophe.

Last Wednesday, Putin announced a “partial” mobilization—Russia’s first mobilization decree since World War II—ordering 300,000 able-bodied men aged 18 to 30 in the military reserves to fight in Ukraine, sparking widespread protests across the country.

“I consider it necessary to make [this] decision, which is fully appropriate to the threats we face…to protect our motherland…to ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories,” Putin said last week.

In the days that followed, Russian police arrested over 2,300 citizens for protesting, and tens of thousands of Russians have now fled the country to avoid the draft.

Now, Russian economist Vladislav Inozemtsev, the director of Moscow-based think tank the Center for Research on Post-Industrial Studies, is warning that Putin’s mobilization will have “truly catastrophic consequences,” including the death of the Russian economy and the downfall of Putin’s regime.

“The Russian economy is going to die by winter, I wrote in early March. Now I think I was right. The mobilization announced on Sept. 21 was a milestone that really divided Russian history into ‘before’ and ‘after’—an event that began the final countdown of Putin’s era,” the economist wrote on Sunday for Russian publication The Insider.

‘I don’t want to die for someone else’s ambitions’

Putin’s mobilization decree has already proved highly unpopular in Russia, prompting mass rallies and protest actions.

On Monday, a gunman opened fire at a military recruitment office in the Siberian region of Irkutsk, injuring one person. The gunman’s identity and motivation have not been disclosed. In Ryazan, a city 115 miles southeast of Moscow, a man set himself on fire, shouting that he didn’t want to fight in Ukraine. Over the weekend, at least 400 people—mostly women—protested in Yakutsk’s city centre, telling police to “let our children live.”

Several reports from independent media publications and researchers note that the Kremlin is likely aiming to draft over 1.2 million men to fight in Ukraine—four times more than the 300,000 the government says it’s recruiting. The Kremlin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov has denied this claim.

Police and recruitment officers have also rounded up students, after Putin specifically said that university students studying full-time would not be called up to serve in Ukraine. Meanwhile, antiwar activists have denounced the government for disproportionately sending ethnic minorities from its Siberian and Caucasus regions to fight in Ukraine. Almost half of the male population in Buryatia, an eastern Siberian region colonized by Russia in the 18th century, have been brought to military assembly points from rural villages, according to independent media reports.

“Mobilization is not partial…in Buryatia. Summons come to students, pensioners, fathers of many children, people with disabilities,” Alexandra Garmazhapova, president of the Free Buryatia Foundation, told CNN.

In a move that shows how far the Kremlin is willing to go to ensure its mobilization demands are met, Putin signed an additional law on Saturday that approves jail terms of up to 10 years for those evading military duty and up to 15 years for wartime desertion.

Catastrophic consequences

Prior to Putin’s mobilization decree, Inozemtsev agreed with predictions that Russia’s GDP would drop around 4–5% this year. But now he believes that Russia’s GDP will drop that much in October alone, and the “next months will only consolidate the trend. Now my spring forecast for a 10% fall seems almost too optimistic,” he said.

The Kremlin’s exclusive focus on mobilization and war efforts means that government funds will be directed to these initiatives at the expense of investment in business and the economy, the economist predicts.

Investments in business will begin to decline sharply, and the Moscow Stock Exchange could dip below 1,500 points before year’s end, Inozemtsev wrote.

“And all this doesn’t take into account…the inevitable new wave of [Western] sanctions that will be announced in the near future. We are talking about a much more radical-than-expected displacement of Russia from energy markets and a new wave of restrictions on the supply of critical [imports] for the country,” he said.

The “financial effects of mobilization—in the medium-term—will be significantly greater than the consequences of…the war in Ukraine,” Inozemtsev said.

In Russia’s poorer regions like Buryatia, the economic consequences will be disastrous, as “thousands of families will be left without income, and local medium and small businesses will simply die out,” Inozemtsev wrote.

Russia will also lose at minimum hundreds of thousands of men to the war’s frontline, and 3 to 4 million more will “disappear” from the labor market,” he wrote. In Russia’s wealthier cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg, residents generally have more resources to leave the country. But Inozemtsev predicts that army officers in the next few days will start serving recruitment papers at people’s workplaces, leading many to quit, or simply not show up at their offices, to avoid getting a summons.

“This will be the strongest blow to the economy. Several million people will prefer to quit their jobs so as not to [serve] in the army. Meanwhile in large cities… the loss of even a few employees can cause disproportionate damage to the economy. Russia is the economy of large cities and companies,” he said.

Putin allies express concern over mobilization ‘excesses’

Reuters

Putin allies express concern over mobilzsation ‘excesses’

September 25, 2022

(Reuters) – Russia’s two most senior lawmakers on Sunday addressed a string of complaints about Russia’s mobilisation drive, ordering regional officials to get a handle on the situation and swiftly solve the “excesses” that have stoked public anger.

President Vladimir Putin’s move to order Russia’s first military mobilisation since World War Two triggered protests across the country and seen flocks of military-age men flee, causing tailbacks at borders and flights to sell out.

Multiple reports have also documented how people with no military service have been issued draft papers – contrary to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s guarantee that only those with special military skills or combat experience would be called up – prompting even ultra-loyal pro-Kremlin figures to publicly express concern.

Russia’s top two parliamentarians, both close Putin allies, explicitly addressed public anger at the way the mobilisation drive was unfolding.

Valentina Matviyenko, the chairwoman of Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council, said she was aware of reports of men who should be ineligible for the draft being called up.

Related video: Muscovites protest against mobilization

Muscovites protest against mobilization

Police moved quickly to detain demonstrators who gathered in central Moscow on Saturday to protest the partial mobilization of reservists Russian President Vladimir Putin declared earlier this week. (Sept. 24)

“Such excesses are absolutely unacceptable. And, I consider it absolutely right that they are triggering a sharp reaction in society,” she said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

In a direct message to Russia’s regional governors – who she said had “full responsibility” for implementing the call-up – she wrote: “Ensure the implementation of partial mobilisation is carried out in full and absolute compliance with the outlined criteria. Without a single mistake.”

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, Russia’s lower chamber, also expressed concern in a separate post.

“Complaints are being received,” he said.

“If a mistake is made, it is necessary to correct it … Authorities at every level should understand their responsibilities.”

Officials say 300,000 more Russians will called up to serve in the mobilisation campaign. The Kremlin has twice denied it actually plans to draft more than one million, following two separate reports in independent Russian media outlets.

Rights groups saying more than 2,000 have been detained at rallies against mobilization in dozens of cities so far this week, with more protests already having been recorded on Sunday in Russia’s Far East and Siberia.

An ex-US Army general who witnessed Russia’s basic training of recruits says it was awful

Business Insider

An ex-US Army general who witnessed Russia’s basic training of recruits says it was awful, and the ‘newbies’ being drafted face disaster on the front line

Alia Shoaib – September 24, 2022

Servicemen stand in front of a tank during the 'Vostok-2022' military exercises at the Sergeevskyi training ground outside the city of Ussuriysk on the Russian Far East on September 6, 2022.
Servicemen stand in front of a tank during the ‘Vostok-2022’ military exercises at the Sergeevskyi training ground outside the city of Ussuriysk on the Russian Far East on September 6, 2022.Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images
  • Russia has called up 300,000 reservists to be drafted to Ukraine.
  • A former US Army general said this was a sign of weakness, suggesting they will lack proper training.
  • Mark Hertling said he had witnessed how the Russian army is “poorly led and poorly trained.”

A former US Army general said that Russia’s announced mobilization of 300,000 reservists was a “jaw-dropping” sign of weakness.

Mark Hertling, who commanded the US Army Europe, explained in a Twitter thread that he has personally witnessed how the Russian army is “poorly led and poorly trained.”

The poor training, coupled with the decision to draft in recruits with little experience, is likely to spell disaster for Russia, he said.

“Mobilizing 300k “reservists” (after failing with depleted conventional forces, rag-tag militias.. recruiting prisoners & using paramilitaries like the Wagner group) will be extremely difficult,” Hertling said.

“And placing “newbies” on a front line that has been mauled, has low morale & who don’t want to be portends more [Russian] disaster.”

Putin announced on Wednesday the partial mobilization of the country’s military reservists, with Russian officials stating that 300,000 reservists will be drafted immediately.

Only those with combat experience will be called up, and students and current conscripts will not be included, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Since the announcement was made, reports have emerged about Russians trying to flee to avoid deployment, and plane tickets out of country selling out.

Insider reported that recruits being drafted this week were totally unsuitable and included a 63-year-old man with diabetes.

Horrible leadership by “drill sergeants”

Hertling, who for a time also commanded all basic and advanced soldier training for the US Army, said that during two visits to Russia he found the army’s training to be “awful.”

He compared Russia’s army training with the US’, which typically involves new soldiers getting 10 weeks of basic training across several sites from “very professional drill sergeants,” and many going on to get more specialized training.

The former general cited a Moscow Times article from July, six months into the invasion of Ukraine, which said that soldiers were being sent to the front line with minimal basic training.

Sergei Krivenko, the director of the human rights group Citizen. Army. Law. told the outlet: “I’ve been regularly approached by parents whose children signed a [military] contract and ended up in Ukraine just a week later.”

The article also quoted one Russian soldier who said he received just five days of training before being sent to combat in Ukraine.

Hertling said when he visited Russia, he noted that Russian army training faced many issues, including “horrible leadership by drill sergeants,” and cited an article about hazing.

He said that officers told him theirs was a “one year” force, with some, often the poorest, volunteering or being elected for leadership roles.

By comparison, Hertling said that Ukraine’s army more closely follows the US model after having received training from US personnel in both individual and unit training techniques since 2014.

The issue of Russian army training, according to Hertling, starts “in basic training, and doesn’t get better during the [Russian] soldier’s time in uniform.”

Insider reached out to Hertling for comment.

Trump’s bruised ego goes full nuclear……Trump responds to Putin’s warning that nuclear threat ‘not a bluff’

The Hill

Trump responds to Putin’s warning that nuclear threat ‘not a bluff’

Jared Gans – September 21, 2022

Former President Trump responded Wednesday to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hinting at being willing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, saying that the conflict should never have happened and that it could lead to a world war.

Trump said on his social media platform Truth Social that the conflict would not have come to pass if he were still in the Oval Office.

“But as I have made very clear for quite some time, this could now end up being World War III,” he said.

Putin announced earlier on Wednesday in an address to the Russian people that he was calling up about 300,000 reservists to provide reinforcements in Ukraine, where his military has recently been struggling. He accused Western countries of “nuclear blackmail” and threatened to use Russia’s nuclear weapons.

“This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them,” Putin said.

The Russian president has repeatedly made threats about using nuclear weapons since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in response to Putin’s comments that the United States was taking Putin’s threat seriously.

Ukraine has retaken control of thousands of square kilometers of its territory as part of a counteroffensive this month.

Flights out of Russia sell out after Putin orders partial call-up

Reuters

Flights out of Russia sell out after Putin orders partial call-up

Caleb Davis – September 21, 2022

A man looks at a flight information board at the departure zone of Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow

GDANSK (Reuters) -One-way flights out of Russia were rocketing in price and selling out fast on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists.

Putin’s announcement, made in an early-morning television address, raised fears that some men of fighting age would not be allowed to leave the country.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the call-up would be limited to those with experience as professional soldiers, and that students and conscripts would not be called up.

The Kremlin declined to comment on whether the borders would be closed to those subject to the mobilisation order, and asked people to be patient as the law is clarified.

Meanwhile, Google Trends data showed a spike in searches for Aviasales, Russia’s most popular flight-booking site.

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia, both destinations that allow Russians to enter without a visa, were sold out on Wednesday, according to Aviasales data.

Flights from Moscow to Istanbul via Turkish Airlines were either all booked or unavailable until Sunday, as of 1415 Moscow time (1115 GMT).

Some routes with stopovers, including those from Moscow to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, were also unavailable, while the cheapest flights to Dubai cost more than 300,000 roubles ($5,000) – about five times the average monthly wage.

Typical one-way fares to Turkey shot up to almost 70,000 roubles ($1,150), compared with a little over 22,000 roubles a week ago, Google Flights data shows.

The head of Russia’s tourism agency said no restrictions have been imposed on travelling abroad so far.

A tourism industry source also told Reuters that demand for plane tickets from Russia for the visa-free countries has jumped.

“It was possible to buy a one-way ticket in the morning for 200,000 roubles to 300,000 roubles, but not anymore,” the source said.

“That’s a panic demand from people, who are afraid that they won’t be able to leave the country afterwards.”

Aeroflot, the country’s flag-carrying airline, said it was not limiting ticket sales.

($1 = 60.9500 roubles)

(Reporting by Caleb Davis; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Frank Jack Daniel, Elaine Hardcastle and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Russia calls up 300,000 reservists, says 6,000 soldiers killed in Ukraine

Reuters

Russia calls up 300,000 reservists, says 6,000 soldiers killed in Ukraine

September 21, 2022

FILE PHOTO: Russian service members march during a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 76th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) – Russia will draft 300,000 reservists to support its military campaign in Ukraine, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday in televised remarks.

In Moscow’s first update on casualty numbers in almost six months, Shoigu said 5,937 Russian soldiers had been killed since the start of the conflict.

President Vladimir Putin had ordered Russia’s first mobilisation since World War Two in an early-morning television address, saying the additional manpower was needed to win a war against not only Ukraine but also its Western backers.

Shoigu dismissed assertions by Kyiv and the West that Russia has suffered heavy losses in its seven-month campaign, and said 90% of wounded Russian soldiers had returned to the frontline.

It was the first time Russia had given an official death toll since March 25, when it said 1,351 servicemen had died.

The U.S. Pentagon said in August that it believed between 70,000 and 80,000 Russian personnel had been killed or wounded, and in July estimated Russia’s death toll at around 15,000.

Shoigu said Russia had 25 million potential fighters at its disposal.

The decree published on the Kremlin’s website said the call-up would apply only to reservists with previous military experience.

Shoigu said this meant around 300,000 men. He said they would be given additional training before being deployed to Ukraine, and that they would not include students or those who were currently serving as conscripts.

“These are really those who have served, have a military speciality, that is, a speciality that is needed today in the Armed Forces, who have combat experience …

“… Those who are serving under conscription – it doesn’t apply to them either,” he said. “They are not subject to any mobilisation and direction for the ‘special military operation’. Our conscripts also continue to serve, as they did, on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Shoigu said the mobilisation would help Russia “consolidate” territories it holds behind a 1,000-km (600-mile) frontline in Ukraine.

Moscow says it is waging a “special operation” to demilitarise its neighbour and rid it of dangerous nationalists.

Kyiv and the West say Russia is mounting an imperialist campaign to reconquer a pro-Western neighbour that broke free of Moscow’s rule when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. (This corrects death toll in paragraph 2 to 5,937 (from 5,397). Makes clear in paragraph 9 that Shoigu excluded those currently serving as conscripts, not those who had previously only served as conscripts; adds supporting quotes in paragraphs 10-11)

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Alison Williams)

‘The Time Has Come’: Top Putin Official Admits Ugly Truth About War

Daily Beast

‘The Time Has Come’: Top Putin Official Admits Ugly Truth About War

Shannon Vavra – September 21, 2022

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

Vladimir Putin’s defense minister sent a clear message to the people of Russia on Wednesday: Their country is at war not just with Ukraine, but with the entirety of the West.

“I cannot but emphasize the fact that today, we are at war not so much with Ukraine and the Ukrainian army as with the collective West,” Sergei Shoigu said in a televised speech, according to TASS.

“At this point, we are really at war with the collective West, with NATO,” Shoigu added.

Shoigu’s warning comes as Putin announces that Russia will be running a “partial mobilization” to better tackle the war in Ukraine, days after a series of resounding defeats on the battlefield in Ukraine as Ukrainian forces have run successful counteroffensives in the south and northeast. In a speech announcing the move Wednesday morning, Putin suggested that the West had been considering using nuclear weapons against Russia and threatened nuclear weapons use in return—without providing any evidence of the West’s supposed threats.

“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction,” Putin said. “It’s not a bluff.”

Russia Implodes After Putin Summons 300,000 to Die for Him

“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin added.

Shoigu’s rhetoric melds well with the Kremlin line about the war in Ukraine; Russia has consistently sought to blame the West for provoking Russia.

President Joe Biden lambasted Putin in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday in an attempt to remind global leaders that although Moscow’s narrative is that the United States and NATO pushed Russia into invading Ukraine, Putin chose to invade Ukraine unprovoked.

“Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened,” Biden said. “But no one threatened Russia. No one other than Russia sought conflict.”

Shoigu on Wednesday boasted about just how well the war is going for Russia. He sought to couch the idea that 300,000 Russian reservists are participating in the “partial mobilization” due to that success—regardless of the fact that since the early days of the war Russian troops have failed to achieve key objectives, including failing to capture Kyiv and needing to downsize their goals several times.

“We’re killing, killing, and killing, and that time has come: We’re at war with the collective West,” Shoigu said.

The move may not be all Putin and Shoigu are cracking it up to be. The flurry of action in Russia—from Russia’s Duma announcing increased penalties for desertion or evading conscription alongside the announcement of a partial mobilization and nuclear threats—is a dead giveaway that Putin’s plans in Ukraine are not going well, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

In a curious effort to convince Russians that the war is going well, Shoigu suggested that only approximately 6,000 Russian troops have perished in the war, but insisted that more troops would be necessary to come out victorious.

The reality is far worse. The Pentagon has estimated, as recently as August, that somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 Russian troops have been wounded or killed.