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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

Putin’s War Has Come Home to Russia

The “partial mobilization” of reservists may have sowed unrest, but by deepening the engagement of ordinary Russians, it will sharpen the conflict for both Russia and Ukraine.

“Even if they don’t have motivation, they’ll have a gun.”

“Even if they don’t have motivation, they’ll have a gun.”

Photographer: Contributor/Getty Images Europe

The so-called “partial mobilization” announced by Vladimir Putin last week has changed the character of the Ukraine war for Russians in a matter of days. And for all the ensuing scenes of disarray and unrest within Russia, the mobilization’s impact will soon change the character of the war for Ukrainians, too.

Less than a week into the mobilization, whether it’s really “partial” or general is hard to tell. Putin’s decree has a conspicuously missing paragraph — Item 6 is immediately followed by Item 8. According to Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, the classified Item 7 deals with the number of people to be mobilized. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu put that at 300,000 people, and Peskov has denied media reports that the actual number in the decree is 1 million or 1.2 million people — but the absence of a precise number fits the situation on the ground best.