Inside Russia

Inside Russia, anguish as men are enlisted to fight in Putin’s war

Matthew Chance is out the front living in London. And, Matthew, obviously you’ve spent so much time on the ground reporting from Moscow as well as Ukraine. What more are you learning now about those trying to avoid what appears to be mass mobilization in Russia?

Yeah, it does. What first. I can tell you that I’ve not seen people in Russia.
So a lot of people I’ve spoken to.

To as alarmed as this in recent years as the sort of levels of anxiety they’re expressing right now. Thousands of them we’ve seen the images of are still struggling to get out of the country. To avoid being pressed into military service in what the Kremlin calls it. Partial mobilization. And so that’s happening still now as we speak tonight. Having said that, though, there are many thousands of people that are being called.

Up and are heeding that Kremlin called.

In the darkness, Russian men are wrenched away to fight. These are heartbreaking scenes from Pam in southern Russia, where wives and mothers, hoping for a last glimpse of loved ones, are wailing in despair. The Kremlin says this is just a partial mobilization. But rights activists tell CNN that ethnic minorities in remote regions of Russia are being disproportionate, called up one way, perhaps, of hiding the impact. Across the entire country, though, an eruption of anger. But Putin’s forced mobilizations have seen distraught protesters risking jail, even direct conscription into the ranks to speak out. People here are simply terrified of loved ones being sent to kill or be killed in Ukraine. I’ve got two kids of conscription age, says this protester in Moscow. I brought them up alone, and I don’t want to lose them. She cries. And for what? Asks her friends. Just so they can kill the sons of other mothers, she answers. There are growing concerns to the Kremlin is violating its own pledge that only reservists with military experience will be called up. But men like Arkjon, a coal miner in Siberia who recorded himself on the military bus taking him away, insist he’s never served it was officially summoned, like many other workers, to join up during his shift.

Protest In Russia After Putin’s Declaration | Ukraine War

I just didn’t know what to do, he says. And thousands of Russian men of fighting age are now desperate to avoid that fate, cramming into trains like this one to neighboring Kazakhstan or driving to the nearest border crossing. Cheap flights have quickly sold out.

Everyone is on the run from Russia, this man’s voice says, amid endless cars now making for the exits, escaping the trauma of being sent to Putin’s war. Right.
Well, Erin, there’s more controversy tonight in Russia, as you’re referring to, about exactly how many people are going to be called up in this mobilization. It’s not just flooding Islam give Ukraine saying it’s. A million local media in Russia is quoting their sources, saying that that’s the figure they’ve been told as well. The Kremlin says that’s lies, but we will see.

All right, thank you very much. Matthew chance powerful peace. And now Christopher joins me, executive director and lead Russia investigator at Bellingcat, which has uncovered so much of the truth of what’s happening here in Putin’s war, and retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hurtling, the former commanding general for Europe and the 7th army. Thanks to both of you. So, Cristo, just watching that powerful piece by Matthew Chants, we hear that there’s a disproportionate call-up of certain ethnic minorities. Clearly, the numbers don’t seem to be 300,000 reservists, and the Russian state media themselves are saying 1 million. What more are you learning is really happening with the mobilization?

Well, one thing that we see is the disproportionate recruitment of people that are from ethnic minorities. We see that if we take the average of Moscow being what we have, evidence is about 30,000 people will be called up in this wave of mobilization in Moscow, that’s about 1% of the stated 300,000. But if you look at what percentage of the people are being caught up in Boris yeah. Or Pakistan, that’s about five times more than in Moscow. Yeah. Part of that can be explained by the fact that because of the poor nature of those regions, a lot more people have sort of prior military experience on contract service because they needed a job. But in any case, this leads to a disproportionate attack on minorities in terms of who is going to die in the first wave of this mobilization. The second thing we’re finding is obviously the complete randomness and chaos of the recruitment process, and the mobilization process. Clearly, this was not something that was prepared. Well, we can account for a lot of incompetence in the Russian army based on what we saw in the first six, or seven months of the war, but this is really incompetent.

There brought in people who are one person was 63 years old, and he was brought in to be mobilized. Clearly outside of any range of being allowed by law. Somebody who had body damage, somebody who had a missing limbus, recruit were attempted to mobilize. So clearly they had some incomplete random information, which leads to the conclusion that Putin did not really prepare for this mobilization. Now, this mobilization, as you can see, as Matthew said, is causing a major social explosion. And Putin was doing everything possible to avoid that.
That’s what he has.

And I think those words are a powerful social explosion. General Hurtling, it seems to indicate that Putin did this quickly. He did it with his back against the wall. Clearly, they’re not prepared. Right. The images that are coming in of how they’re mobilizing and where they’re sleeping and everything, this is insane. No professional would do it this way. It comes as we’re hearing more and more threats of nukes from Putin. And CNN is reporting that the US. Has privately urged Russia not to use nukes. Does that warning mean anything?

It does. Aaron if I may, I’ll comment on what Mr. Grossiff just said. First, you use the word chaotic, dysfunctional, and insane. And I will say, have we not heard all three of those words in what Mr. Putin and his military have done so far in this campaign? It’s a recurring theme. Watching these pictures, it’s unbelievable to me. I knew it was going to be bad. Again, I’m going to say, we didn’t know it was going to be this bad. This is horrific. One of the two lessons I learned as a soldier, Aaron, there was a time when our unit was asked to stay three months longer in Iraq. I was sent back to Germany to talk to the spouses and the family members of the soldiers that had to stay beyond their twelve-month tour. It was horrible for me to do it, but it was something that I learned very early on. Don’t ever piss off wives or mothers. What Putin has done is pissed off 300,000 wives or mothers. This is not going to end well. The whole threat of nuclear weapons, that’s something that has to be addressed, because it is horrific to even threaten to use those weapons.

I think the administration is handling that in the right way. To issue warnings, deterrents, and maybe some nuanced approaches on what might happen if Mr. Putin decides to do another insane thing.

 

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