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Putin is mobilizing another 300,000 soldiers to wage his war. But Ukrainians feel hope, not fear Natalya Gumyanyuk

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iIn his speech on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin announced that the Kremlin is mobilizing 300,000 military reservists for service in Ukraine. He insisted that Russia is simply defending itself and its territories and that the West does not want to see peace in Ukraine. Paradoxically, the reaction of many Ukrainians to Putin’s speech was relief – and even hope.

All these months, the Kremlin wanted the Russians to remain distanced from the military campaign; the state will leave you alone as long as you stay out of politics and show indifference to war. Mobilization can change that. Another 300,000 families will begin to feel the war personally. The move also confirms that Russia will not be able to defend the territories it has occupied without additional personnel. The Russian army is in desperate need of additional troops hold the front line which stretches for 1500 miles.

On the day of Putin’s speech near 1,300 people were detained across Russia for a protest against conscription. This was a smaller number compared to anti-war protests which happened immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, it is not their opinion that matters, but the silent Russian majority who have tolerated or even supported the war that is being played out on their TV screens.

Uladzimir Zelensky recently told a journalist of a Ukrainian publication about this intelligence suggests The Kremlin has already started mobilizing reserve troops. But the Russians will need another month to join the fighting – time the Ukrainians can use to retake as much territory as possible before winter sets in.

Liberation of the occupied territories it’s not just saving local residents from atrocities committed by Russian troops. The further the front line recedes, the safer the cities of central, southern and eastern Ukraine will be. Thanks to the successful counteroffensive, Ukrainian troops have already returned a significant part of the territory in the Kharkiv region.

The mock referendums which were suddenly planned in the four occupied regions also tell us more about the Kremlin’s predicament. These votes do not affect the status of these territories in any way, although Russia may hope that they will help in the annexation of these regions. Polls in support of referendums look even more ridiculous. Ukrainian news service received the document shows that in the Kharkiv region, the Kremlin planned to hold a forced referendum on joining the Russian Federation on November 7, gaining 75% of support. The document was dated August 24; a few weeks later, the territory was liberated by Ukrainian troops.

It is important to emphasize that any data that allegedly indicates support for the occupying state cannot be taken seriously. In those places where Ukrainians tortured and shot, there is no opportunity to express opinions. The resistance to redemption itself a less publicized phenomenon, as resistance is extremely dangerous. However, this is happening in the occupied territory.

Local leaders appointed by the Kremlin are marginal. Local investigative journalists working for the organization I belong to were forced to work in exile and can hardly find out who these leaders are or learn about them questionable stories.

The experience of the occupied Crimea also reminds us that the real goal of Russia in the occupied territories may be create a military base for the attack on Ukraine. The annexation of southern Ukrainian regions such as Melitopol, Berdyansk and Kakhovka would raise morale at home in Russia; but often Russian soldiers are not even capable pronounce the names the places they occupy. Russia may have practical reasons for occupation. It could forcibly recruit local people, which would be against the Geneva Convention, and use them as cannon fodder in further military campaigns.

Instead of thinking about Putin’s speech, many Ukrainians celebrated the exchange 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war which happened on the same day. Among them are fighters of the “Azov” battalion, soldiers of the National Guard, the head of the patrol police of Mariupol, etc. a paramedic nine months pregnant who spent six months in prison.

Exhausted, thin and wearing the same clothes as when they were seized in May 2022, many had the opportunity to call their families for the first time in months. “The best soil in the world,” said one of the fighters, kneeling down and kissing the ground. ten foreigners including five British nationals who fought on the side of Ukraine, were brought to Dubai. Five Ukrainian commanders were brought to Turkey under the guarantee of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that they will not be allowed to return to Ukraine until the end of the war. More than 2,000 defenders of Mariupol were imprisoned; many remain in captivity. After attack on the Aleniv prison this summer, where many Ukrainian prisoners of war were held, it is unclear who is still alive.

These 215 prisoners were released because Ukraine agreed to return several recently captured Russian officers, and Viktor Medvedchuk, a friend of Putin and his key person in Ukraine, who was accused of high treason. Some Ukrainians would have liked him to serve his time in prison, but most did not care what Russia was doing as long as it was helping to save the lives of its people. This is the same feeling that many have felt about other recent moves by the Kremlin. Whatever Putin says, the Ukrainians go their own way, according to their plan: now that plan is to continue the counteroffensive.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/22/vladimir-putin-reservists-ukrainians-russian-families-war-kremlin

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