From Jamie Peipon: There have been two main stories that have been discussed today. The first is that the “referendums” in occupied areas on joining russia are underway. You can see in the picture above one way in which this is happening. In this picture, you can see a guy with a passport from a “People’s Republic” (that doesn’t exist). In the video he asks the election official what type of ID can be used to vote. She honestly replies, “A passport from a ‘people’s republic,’ a russian passport, or a military ID.” If I hadn’t seen this performance before, I would find it strange that people with Ukrainian passports aren’t permitted to vote… seeing as how the vote is taking place in Ukraine and deals with the question about whether or not this part of Ukraine desires to accede to russia. I might also find it strange that a woman is walking around with a transparent “ballot box” while another woman takes down notes from the man’s passport in her notebook. But this whole referendum process is one, giant, postmodern, theatrical performance the curtain call of which is the announcement of the results that were already predetermined by the russian occupiers. As I said, I’ve seen this show before.
There are all kinds of reports out of the occupied territories about how this referendum is happening. Almost always, the reports include the fact that armed russian soldiers are at polling places. But there are other reports of mobile voting units, like in the picture below, that are accompanied by armed russian soldiers who are going door-to-door and forcing people to vote at gunpoint.
Meanwhile, the G7 nations have already said that they will not recognize the results of this “referendum.” They’ve also gone on to say that they will “pursue further targeted sanctions” if they take place. Well… they’re definitely taking place, so I look forward to seeing what the new sanctions will be. Make no mistake: the sanctions are absolutely working. In one day this week, the russian stock market dropped 9%. Their economy is sorely crippled.
The second major event in the news is the outworking of the russian mobilization. Defense minister Shoigu stated verbally this week that russia was planning to call up about 300,000 reserves. The written decree, however, does not mention any specific number of soldiers; but there is a redacted paragraph in the decree. An investigative reporting group called Meduza has cited a source close to one of russia’s federal ministries saying that the redacted paragraph’s content includes the fact that the kremlin plans to conscript 1.2 MILLION people. None of this is particularly worrying to me because russia couldn’t feed and otherwise supply the troops that were already in Ukraine. I just don’t see how they’ll manage the logistics necessary to get all these soldiers into Ukraine and to the front with food, clothing, and ammunition.
These numbers are also interesting because I am old enough to remember all the way back to the 8th of March (International Women’s Day) when putin promised all the russian women that there would be no calling up of reserves for this “special military operation.” I hope the russian women remember that lie, too.
russia’s defense minister also reported some interesting figures. He estimated Ukraine’s losses to be enormous (close to half of the Ukrainian army) but said that russia had lost less than 6,000 soldiers. Of course that begs the question: if half of Ukraine’s army is gone and russia has loss less than 6,000 soldiers, why is it necessary to mobilize at least 300,000 more? The mobilization only makes sense if the true numbers are closer to Ukraine’s estimates.
For regular russian citizens things have gotten a bit more real with this news. There has been a spike in russia of a few draft-dodging queries on Google including: “how to leave Russia” and “how to break my arm at home.”
“Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,
but he who hates bribes will live.
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
The LORD is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”