January 30, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10447

Editorial In Russian Newspaper 'Nezavisimaya Gazeta': With Mobilization's Resumption, Kremlin Will Continue To Bleed Political Capital

January 30, 2023
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10447

Asked by journalists why the decree on mobilization had not been canceled if it had been completed, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov replied: "The decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on partial mobilization continues in force, as it provides not only for the call-up of the required number of citizens, which has been completed."

He added: "As for the call for partial mobilization, this process has been completed. And here I propose to focus on the words and statements of the President of Russia. But the decree also provides for other functions that are necessary for the Ministry of Defense."[1]

In its January 24, 2023 editorial, the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta sought to make sense of Peskov's reply, as all signs point to a resumption of mobilization for the war in Ukraine. It stated that the Kremlin took a ratings hit in September, when Putin announced the partial mobilization, underlining that some of the scenes that followed that announcement, such as the rounding up of people in the streets or the massive exodus from Russia to evade the call-up, did not enhance Putin's reputation. Therefore, it said, Putin should not be put in the position of bearer of bad news, and the forthcoming mobilization must be sugarcoated as part of an ongoing process: There must be no repeat of the September shock and it must not appear as a violation of the contract between the regime and the populace – a contract under which the regime provides stability and the public does not concern itself with politics.

The editorial went on to say that these tactics will not work and that under a one man rule, the leader cannot evade blame – and that as a result, the regime is expending the political capital that it has accumulated.

Below is the Nezavisimaya Gazeta editorial:[2]

A scene from the September 2022 "partial mobilization" (Source

"In recent days, the state propaganda 'on/off switch' appears to have been switched to 'resumption of mobilization' position, and locked there. This is attested to, for instance, not only by the clarifications provided by Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov regarding the continuation of Vladimir Putin's decree on partial mobilization – or, say, the mere speculation in the pro-Kremlin media that the special military operation [i.e. SVO] requires reinforcement. Statements by General Staff head Valery Gerasimov in an interview with the AiF newspaper seem to have confirmed the fact that the information machine has been turned on.

"The Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces explained that 'to stabilize the situation, protect new territories, and conduct offensives, the General Staff had to put in place plans to carry out partial mobilization.'

"At the same time, he acknowledged that since 'the system of mobilization training was not fully adjusted to modern economic relations,' the military authorities 'had to fix everything on the fly.' What matters here is not even what Gerasimov says, but when he does it. Although, naturally, there is nuance in the interview – such as his complete removal of Russia's president from the mobilization context.

"The state propaganda network pursues the following media policy: Mobilization is an ongoing event without any 'storm' or 'calm,' so there is no need to keep bringing up September 21 [the previous mobilization]. This is precisely what the military correspondents, who should a priori inspire confidence, purely if solely because they as experts present opinions on the ground and not from home sofas, seek to persuade readers and viewers of.

"Military correspondents try to get citizens used to [thinking that] measures to replenish the personnel taking part in the SVO are unavoidable, while [at the same time] the Kremlin speaker assures [them] that Putin has nothing to do with it, saying: 'As for the partial mobilization draft, this process has been completed. Here I advise you to be guided by the words of the president of Russia. But the decree also envisages other functions.'

"However, it's unlikely that such a concentration on one issue could mean anything other than preparation for the moment when there are reports that the country's population is being called up for the SVO here and there.

"It is clear that there will be no street roundups outside; state propaganda has already made them part of Ukrainian reality. Thus, there can only be an 'under the radar' mobilization in Russia. Nevertheless, its 'creeping' character does not cancel out its enormity, and, thus, the wave of anxiety. However, the Kremlin seems to believe that Putin is henceforth withdrawn from this issue and that there will not, as in September, be a violation of the sacred paradigm – i.e. that the president should always be a source of good news.

"Back then, the SVO necessity forced the authorities to drag to the surface a part of the 'deep state people,' who did not much like the way the mobilization was conducted and the excesses that accompanied it.

"The opinion polls demonstrated a decline in the resource of loyalty to the authorities; people questioned their ability to maintain public tranquility, for the sake of which, inter alia, the majority [of population] had renounced involvement in politics. This is why the President quickly and personally proclaimed an end to the mobilization.

"Now Putin appears to have nothing to do with the possible resumption of the mobilization. But the sole ruler is hardly likely to avoid the projection upon himself of dissatisfaction with another rocking of the boat.

"Nevertheless, in the interests of a planned victory over Ukraine, or rather the West, the government seems ready to draw from the well of popular confidence in it. Henceforth, all that remains is the accumulated domestic political stability – that is, the cornerstone of the regime.

"In the past, it was for the sake of this very stability that many change processes were slowed down, money was stockpiled and saved, and various oppositionists were crushed. It was assumed that the real reserve of strength would be enough for the country to make the necessary leap both forward and upwards. But for the time being, the authorities are likely to intentionally continue squandering this expensive reserve as well."


[1], January 23, 2023,

[2], January 24, 2023.

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