Timothy D. Snyder, the noted professor and historian at Yale University and the London School of Economics, says that Russian President Vladimir Putin is clearly afraid, and not just because his forces in Ukraine are withdrawing.
Professor Timothy D. SnyderPhoto: Pako Mera / Shutterstock Editorial / Profimedia Images
Snyder, a historian specializing in the modern history of Central and Eastern Europe and the author of several best-selling books, says Putin did something he clearly didn’t want to do.
“The mobilization announcement shows that he fears his fascist rivals more than he fears the Russian public,” he says, but explains that, although called for by anti-war activists, it is very difficult in Russia to witness mass protests after legislative measures taken in recent years to suppress any form of dissent, intensifying immediately after the launch of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Small-scale protests, however, took place in several Russian cities on Wednesday evening, with law enforcement quickly arresting participants they treated as terrorists.
The American professor says that the main reaction in Russia will be that people will try to flee the country, as already seen by the queues of cars formed at the border with Finland and the sell-out of plane tickets for flights leaving the country, while others will he was trying to hide.
Dissident Alexei Navalny spoke about this in turn on Wednesday, taking advantage of a court hearing held in Kovrov to say that 5 million Russians will try to hide around the country to avoid mobilization.
American professor talks about growing discontent in Vladimir Putin’s army
Snyder recalls that according to the decree signed by Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, the contract soldiers will be forced to stay at the front indefinitely, and their morale will suffer even more.
“I expect a simmering anger about this that will not improve Ukraine’s combat capability,” Synder writes, adding that the calm reactions of Ukrainians, coming from both President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces , shows that they took into account in their plans the possibility of Putin ordering the mobilization.
“The most important thing to note is that this (mobilisation) will hit the Russian population hard which has already suffered a lot, with suggestions that surrender makes more sense for the Russians than fighting on.”
The US historian describes the referendums announced by the occupation authorities in Russian-controlled Ukrainian territories as “a social media exercise in which numbers will be made up to show how much the Russian occupation is wanted”.
Snyder points out at the end that the fact that Putin did not deliver his speech at the scheduled time and that it had to be recorded suggests disorder “and perhaps illness in the Kremlin.”
“I for one interpret Putin’s restlessness as a symptom of a lost war,” he says.
Who is Timothy D. Snyder
Aged 59, the American historian is a permanent researcher at the Institute for the Humanities in Vienna, in addition to holding chairs at Yale University and London.
Recipient of several prestigious scholarships and awards over the years, he is the author of several best-selling non-fiction books, including “The Realm of the Dead. Europe between Hitler and Stalin”, “The road to unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America” and “On tyranny: Twenty lessons of the 20th century”.
Although he specializes in the modern history of Central and Eastern Europe, he is also an expert on the Holocaust, being a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Committee.
In late June he also said the West should not be concerned about “humiliating” Vladimir Putin, directly contradicting French President Emmanuel Macron’s claims to that effect.
“Russian troops cannot be cornered since they can retreat into Russia. Putin cannot be cornered since he rules based on a virtual reality created by the media that he himself controls. We know he can fail to achieve his announced war goals (as happened in Ukraine in 2015) and simply change the subject,” Synder wrote in an opinion piece published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Earlier in the war he also dismantled arguments that a nuclear power like Russia could not lose a war like the one in Ukraine.
Follow the latest developments from the 211th day of the war in Ukraine LIVETEXT on HOTNEWS.RO.