Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is now taking its toll on its own population. Following Putin’s mobilisation, the authorities are not being picky about whom they send to war and are recruiting thousands of men in many places without regard for their age, health or previous military experience. Observers see this as a campaign by the Kremlin against its own people – with as yet uncertain political and social consequences.

Today, Europe’s press debates the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are some opinions from a selection of European publications, presented by eurotopics.

Putin never more vulnerable

The situation is completely unpredictable, says Spotmedia:

“It will be interesting to follow the dynamics of internal tensions in the coming days. The mortal fear of those who are being forced to go to war has caused extreme volatility. Anything can happen now. The social networks are full of video clips showing conflicts between desperate parents and authorities, between recruits and future commanders, and between demonstrators and security forces. It is premature to speak of the fall of the regime, but Vladimir Putin has never been more vulnerable.”


Escape only helps individuals

Economist Maxim Mironov explains in a Facebook post that leaving or hiding won’t save Russian society from the consequences of the mobilisation:

“Unfortunately this strategy is not likely to reduce the number of conscripts in the first months of the campaign. Since the pool of those eligible to be called up is quite large, refusing to serve will allow wealthier, better informed young people to avoid conscription at the expense of their less well-off peers. So this strategy will not prevent the massive and senseless loss of lives when hundreds of thousands of conscripts are sent to Ukraine.”

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 15, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 15, 2024

Latest from the Institute for the Study of War.

War against ethnic minorities

It is mainly members of non-Russian populations who are being sent to fight against Ukraine, notes:


“In annexed Crimea, Crimean Tatar youths are being called up en masse. In Buryatia, entire villages are being surrounded and all the men taken by force. According to locals, the extermination of the Buryats is part of a strategy by Russian clans to gain complete control over Lake Baikal and the surrounding areas. The genocide of the Crimean Tatars, meanwhile, has long been a fixed imperial idea. … So even if the mobilisation achieves nothing in Ukraine, the imperial regime in Moscow believes it will still benefit.”

The line has been crossed

Visão is not surprised by the protests in Russian cities:

“With his intimidating speech and the underlying plan to annex the Ukrainian territories, as well as the direct threat to use nuclear weapons, Putin has exceeded the limits of domestic acceptance. If the Russian troops have no equipment and no reserves, the same applies in mirror image to the Russian population, which can no longer lead a normal life without products and goods, and with roubles in their pockets that serve no purpose. The line has been crossed. Patience has run out and demonstrations are spreading.”

Changes in the Kremlin no longer out of the question


wPolityce sees reason to hope for change in Russia:

“The scale of the anti-mobilisation protests that have gripped Russia is surprising. Taking to the streets in wartime to protest against forced conscription shows determination. … It is hard to avoid the impression that Putin has made a second big mistake. The first was to attack Ukraine, the second was to announce the mobilisation and set the course for escalation. If the West does not allow itself to be intimidated, we will see – and soon – a change of power in the Kremlin.”

Still firmly in the saddle

The announcement is unlikely to make much of an impact, social scientists Andrei Kolesnikov and Denis Volkov comment in a guest article for Der Standard:

“At this stage there is little reason to believe that Putin’s regime is in any real danger. Russians mainly blame the US, Europe and Nato for their current problems – and the sanctions have done nothing to dispel this impression. Moreover, both the political opposition and civil society have been destroyed. … The question is whether a further deterioration of the socioeconomic situation can make Russians finally turn against Putin.”

Loyalty to Putin put to the test

Novi list writes:

“The first indication of how things really stand in Russia will come when the mobilisation of the 300,000 reservists Putin announced yesterday actually begins. … If 300,000 new Russian soldiers really do arrive in eastern Ukraine in the next few weeks, or if the mobilisation succeeds on a large scale, it will be clear that Putin enjoys the solid support of Russia’s citizens. If far fewer soldiers arrive in the war zone than expected, it will show that Putin has far less support than his media would have us believe.”


Scrambling to escape

Russian men are rushing to leave the country to avoid being called up, observes Milliyet:

“The predictable reaction was immediate: flights to Istanbul sold out. Those who want to save themselves are scrambling to get outside the country before the decision becomes law. Since there are no more flights to other European countries and Schengen visas are no longer valid, Istanbul and other airports in Turkey are the only escape route for those who do not want to join the military.”


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