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Sergey Radchenko on Putin's Mobilization Speech

Sergey Radchenko, professor of Russian history at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies takes a look at Putin's speech declaring a partial mobilization in Russia.


What do we make of Russia's partial mobilization of the armed forces? President Vladimir Putin is calling up military reservists, pulling people with some military training out of civilian life. The government says their job will be to hold the front line in Ukraine, where Russian forces have suffered heavy losses. Putin is also making moves to annex parts of Ukraine to Russia, the same way that Russia once claimed Crimea. Sergey Radchenko is a professor of Russian history at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He's going to help us talk through this. Welcome to the program.

SERGEY RADCHENKO: Thank you for having me.

INSKEEP: Putin did order a partial mobilization but did not order a universal draft. What can we learn from what he did and what he did not do there?

RADCHENKO: Right. So the actual proclamation or the directive that he issued did not actually say partial, but what we can learn from it is that the Ministry of Defense will have a quota for each region, and the quota will then say how many reservists that particular region has to contribute to the overall number. Minister of Defense Shoigu announced that the number is likely to be in the region of 300,000.

INSKEEP: Which is a lot of people, but they could have called up more. Does this indicate that Russian authorities and Putin himself are worried about the level of public support for this war?

RADCHENKO: Well, that's certainly part of that. Obviously, mobilization is not popular in Russia. And if you follow flights out of Russia, as I have done this morning and yesterday, you know, tickets are being purchased. Flights are just impossible to get because people are fleeing Russia. You know, people of the age when they could be drafted to serve in this war do not want to do it, and many of them are trying to leave. So there is a general - there's public wariness. Nobody wants to really fight in this war. And that's despite the fact that according to the directive that Putin issued, the people who are being drafted will be given salaries on par with the contract soldiers. And those are actually fairly high salaries by the standards of Russia's regions.

Read entire article at NPR