a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by ThatFanficGuy
ThatFanficGuy  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Alla Pugacheva, the Russian Queen of Pop, comes out against the war

You must understand: remaining quiet is the way of life in Russia. You learn from a young age: shut up and go about your life, or be bullied and ostracized. Don't rock the boat, and you may retain the prospects of a good life in the country. Russian people have been bullied for centuries in this fashion.

Outside of that, people higher on the social ladder in Russia, like Pugacheva, have to work with Putin's government (or at least stay quiet about it) to not lose their status and prospects of earning the good money. If you're an artist who's an enemy of Putin's, you can't work in the country as long as his cronies rule. (It doesn't hurt that Alla may or may not have the right of long-term residence in Israel. This comes with being the wife of a Russian artist of Jewish descent Maxim Galkin, who'd been openly critical of Putin's government in the past and has been recently listed as a "foreign agent": an official brand of Putin's disgrace.)

In other words, unlike in the US, in Russia it's rare for a person of such stature to stand so openly against the bullshit the government's doing. You must remember: while US' democracy is flawed, it's still a democracy; Russia is a dictatorship, more so since the war's start.

While it doesn't cost her very much to speak up (she can still perform around the world, and Israel is a haven for the former-USSR/Russia citizens, many of whom grew up listening to her songs), what makes this different is that, like the article says, Pugacheva is extremely popular in Russia.

More than anything, it shows that Putin's losing the respect of more and more people high on the social ladder. Many a star of the Russian media either align openly with Putin or stay quiet, but the more the popular people – those having the attention of the public – speak up against him, the less control Putin et al. retain on the country's politics.

Plenty of commentators in my Ukraine feed treat it as a tidal shift in public opinion in the country. I reserve joy until I see Putin toppled, but this is great to see. Maybe it will sway some opinions. The zeitgeist is stirred by opinions spoken aloud, after all.

b_b  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Genuinely appreciate the reply. It is very difficult to get a clear-eyed view of life inside Russia from over here. The big news on Russia last week was that Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi are publicly rebuking him at the security conference (or at least as far as they're willing to do within the context of diplomatic-speak). Seems like cracks are developing in Putin's armor that weren't apparent even a few weeks ago. Hopefully he will get the message and reformulate his strategy. As much as I'd like to see him go, I fear for your people if he's ousted in a violent or turbulent way. Seems like that typically leads to more suffering.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

> Hopefully he will get the message and reformulate his strategy.

With the recent shift towards a possible mobilization, methinks this rock sank too far.

b_b  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's really horrible if he goes that route. The speculation in the Western media is generally that Putin would not want a general mobilization, because it will expose his "special military operation" as a lie. But that's western journalists trying to interpret things they likely don't understand very well.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Here's what I know:

The failure of the invasion is becoming more and more apparent in Russia. Even pro-war/pro-Putin channels are starting to vent their anger and the impotence of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine. With the recent bombings in Crimea (ostensibly a Russian territory where plenty of Russians went on a holiday trip) and the advances of the Ukrainian forces in the occupied Donetsk region (as well as the brewing Kherson offensive), it's becoming clear that Russia is utterly fucked as far as its war goals go.

The analysis I've read so far indicates that even a partial actual mobilization would be a test of the support for the war. If I were an evil asshole in charge of Russia, I'd mobilize from the minority ethnic groups in Russia: Bashkirs, Tuvans, Mordvins etc.. That would alleviate the burden on the white Muscovites and add to the fodder. My understanding is: as long as Putin keeps his military ambitions out of the major centers of the country – Moscow, Saint Petersburg, maybe Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk – white Russians will comply with the "don't rock the boat" doctrine. That's what he's been doing so far; that's why the Bucha massacre was perpetrated by an ethnic-minority batallion.

Full mobilization would likely lead to a sharp increase in unrest (meaning more molotovs in the windows of the conscription centers all of a sudden, among other things), which is horrific for Putin in his already shaky position. It would do nothing to "expose" anything: people here understand it's a war that you're not allowed to call a war. People are scared, but not dumb. Views may differ on who's the bad guy ,but it's clearly a war in everybody's mind at this stage.

Of course, this is all speculation from a guy who reads too much news on the subject.

It would be ironic, in the most bitter way possible, to start doing the work to GTFOut of Russia at the start of the war, only to be thwarted by a madman's last card trick. I would be pissed in Hell if it's bureaucracy that kills me.

kleinbl00  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Four months ago Western audiences were being told Russia had artillery stockpiles that could support their relentless battle tempo for eighteen months. Two weeks ago Western audiences were being told Russia was buying artillery rounds from North Korea.

I'm not an expert on Russia. I'm not an expert on war. But you don't go from the former to the latter without lowering expectations. The fact that the most effective weapon in the Russian arsenal appears to be a loitering munition from Iran puts a tarnish on the Red Army, to put it mildly.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Not "lowering expectations": "admitting success of the current phase of the operation and scaling down goals to a permanently-sustainable level".

It's like you've never heard the Russian state media spin it. :P That's what they did with the "second phase", aka "getting our asses handed to us properly baked and salted".

Until Putin et al. are out of the seat of power, you will not hear about Russian losses and defeats on state TV. (You are, however, not wrong that the pro-Russian/pro-war Telegram channels started fuming some months ago, and it's getting sulfur-y up in this bitch. They are enthusiast-controlled, and even they can't keep themselves from wondering "what air defense doing??".)

kleinbl00  ·  77 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Oh I've heard plenty - it's just that I haven't even attempted to speak the language in nearly 40 years and am fully cognizant that everything I see and hear, I see and hear through a filter. This is one of many reasons I, and other Westerners, should regard things in terms of verifiable facts.

According to official Russian statistics, Ukrainians have been killing an average of 262 Russian soldiers per day. On average, Afghan Mujahedin killed less than three per day in Afghanistan. On average, Ukrainians have been wounding about 800 Russian soldiers per day. Afghanistan? seventeen.

"Decimate" has become a synonym for "annihilate" or "wipe out" or "utterly defeat." Historically and technically, however, to decimate means to reduce in strength by 1/10th through attrition. In terms of Russia's initial invasion of Ukraine, Russia's force has been decimated ten times over - in terms of statistics, Russia has accomplished the mathematically impossible and has lost more troops than it committed. In terms of active Russian forces? Decimation was months ago. In terms of history, Ukraine is an Afghanistan every fortnight and, aside from Ukraine's near total lack of navy, has already exceeded the Russo-Japanese War. Both conflicts toppled their leaders.

Americans thinking they understand Russia is a trope that I am VERY guilty of. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... something something George W Bush. I'm not about to pretend any insights in to Russia, Russian behavior or Putin's subconscious.

But I can say that if two points determine a line, this is statistically a regime change event.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  77 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I would hope that you're right. I remain optimistic but not hopeful for the near future.

b_b  ·  77 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I believe this is why when they were caught actively recruiting in prison yards they didn’t deny it. They simply said, “It’s prisoners or your children. You pick.”

kleinbl00  ·  77 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Rhetorically speaking, the architecture is (1) "what we are doing is correct beyond doubt or question" (2) "therefore an explanation for the way we are doing it is a courtesy and a privilege." This is the fundamental difference between an open society and a closed society: the open society requires the government to act with consensus or else the government is replaced. The closed society is compelled by the government so the consensus is achieved by definition. It's not "prisoners or your children you pick" it's "the Nazis are so depraved and worthy of genocide that even our hardened prisoners wish to take part in this historic, patriotic action."

b_b  ·  77 days ago  ·  link  ·  

No that's what's so astounding is that it is "prisoners or your children." They're abandoning normal pretense. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62922152

kleinbl00  ·  77 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's a patriotism play. That's my point - when you start from a place of guaranteed righteousness you can get just about anywhere with very little effort. "If you think this is immoral then clearly you are not patriotic."

kleinbl00  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

ThatFanficGuy  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm a little whipped up into a frenzy myself, here.

Suddenly, I'm very uncomfortable in this tiny cold apartment.

The same thing happened in the spring. I was mortified by the prospect of being taken away, considering back then everybody knew where I lived, and I couldn't trust my parents not to point in my direction when the servicemen come knocking. Not completely, anyway.

So yeah, chill out, American audience. Ukraine's got this.

But also forgive me for feeling a little selfish in this situation.

kleinbl00  ·  78 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm very much enjoying not being in Russia. I hope you and yours are safe.