Vladimir Putin is in trouble. His army is experiencing reversals. And he's calling up kids to replace his dwindling forces. Michael Harris writes:
In making these announcements, Putin has planted both feet in a bear trap. U.S. military experts who study developments in Ukraine with a lapidarian’s eye think that conscription will lead to more reversals on the battlefield. Does Russia even have the capacity to take such a large number of men and turn them into soldiers overnight? The Americans don’t think so. They say these new conscripts will be ill-trained, poorly equipped, and demoralized—which is a pretty good description of the ragged Russian units already in Ukraine. Putin has even taken to using mercenary convicts to shore up his battered forces.
Putin -- convinced that he is a very stable genius -- has personally taken control of his army:
No modern, professional army operates like that. Command and control in combat is a vital component that goes out the window when the leading politician of a country makes himself the boss-hog general. Putin simply doesn’t know his ass from a bomb-crater when it comes to conducting a war. The results in Ukraine are making that painfully clear.
When Putin sent his invaders into Ukraine, most observers thought the Zelenskyy government would fall in a few days. There was a time when Russia controlled roughly 20 per cent of Ukraine. Now, with continuing Western support, the betting is that Ukraine can not only reclaim lost territory, it may even be able to win the war.
And, once again, he's making nuclear threats:
If Putin is still rational, he will understand that the person who lifts the lid on that Pandora’s Box won’t see anything good happen. Russia is not the only country with tactical nuclear weapons. The West would be under tremendous pressure to ride to the rescue if Putin actually used his most fearsome terror weapon on Ukrainians.
However, there are signs that ordinary Russians have had enough:
There is a real possibility that the war in Ukraine will not be decided on the battlefield of the world’s bread basket, but in the public squares of Russia. When was the last time you saw men, women, and children taking to the streets to oppose Vladimir Putin? That is exactly what they have been doing in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
More than 1,800 of them have been detained, half of that number are women and children.
Why are they in the street, knowing that their lives could be blown out like a candle, by a regime that doesn’t tolerate opposition? In a country where people keep falling out of windows, the sudden knock on the door could come at any time. They are in the street because they have heard the news from the front, where thousands of young Russians have been killed or wounded in this misbegotten and mismanaged war. According to the Ukrainians, who lost 9,000 military personnel in the first six months of the war, Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s forces have killed or wounded 45,000 Russian troops.
The message in Russia is getting clearer: Putin’s “special military operation” is not a patriotic effort to liberate Russians or to “de-Nazify” Ukraine. It is Putin’s folly, a dreadful meat grinder that mothers in Russia have come to see as a threat to their families. That’s why 18 different regions in Russia have actually called for Putin’s resignation. Sadly, dictators don’t resign, they get even.
Or they are overthrown. Stay tuned.