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Watching Russia

September 27, 2022 10:11 a.m.
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Over the weekend I started thinking about a hypothetical: is there anyone in the Russian national security apparatus who thinks to themselves, “Yep, decision to pull the trigger on the invasion back in February … great call!”

I emphasize “think” rather than “say” since the mood in Russia doesn’t seem like one where doubts are likely to be expressed openly, at least at the upper levels of the national security establishment. People find ways not to ask themselves these questions, even in the privacy of their thoughts. But it is hard to imagine many managing to say yes. The suffering is overwhelmingly in and to Ukraine; they are the victims. But it is hard to imagine a greater self-inflicted wound than the one Russia brought on itself back in February, entirely at a time and place of its choosing.

I raise this question because, as you likely know, President Putin recently declared a “partial mobilization” in Russia, the first since the Second World War, which gives the state power to draft about 300,000 new recruits, though there are signs on the ground that the mobilization is actually far from partial.

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