Rumors are circulating in Russia that Vladimir Putin will soon demand another massive mobilization in a desperate effort to end the calamitous defeats against Ukraine.
This comes despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warning Moscow that it must withdraw from all occupied territories if there is to be a lasting resolution to the war.
It was also predicted that such a move could be a diversionary tactic allowing Putin to step down and hand over power, as the leader has apparently suffered from health problems in recent months.
A Soviet-era T-34 tank and other military vehicles drive through the city of Novosibirsk during a military parade to mark the 77th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II on May 9 2022
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov today denied the Kremlin warmonger would make an imminent announcement.
“Media reports of Putin’s speech, which allegedly heralds the ‘mobilization of the country’, are false,” said Dmitry Peskov.
Yet such denials only fuel speculation that a decision to go beyond the 300,000 already enrolled is not far off.
This is partly because Putin did not sign the decree necessary to end the first wave of mobilization.
One version is that he could enlist up to two million – 300,000 of them women – in an attempt to turn the war into a national crusade.
The move will likely be coupled with martial law in key cities including Moscow, according to Russian sources.
Such a scenario could serve as political cover for him to hand over power if his health worsens, say some observers convinced he is terminally ill – despite regular recent appearances, including trips abroad to Armenia .
Rumors suggest that Sergei Kiriyenko, 60, his authoritarian deputy chief of staff and former prime minister, could replace Putin, while others focus on Dmitry Patrushev, agriculture minister and son of the chief apparatchik of the safety of President Nikolay Patrushev, who would be the power behind the new ruler.
“Putin considers it ‘enough’ to call two million more people, including about 300,000 women,” said General SVR Telegram, which expects it to be triggered in January.
“A large number of casualties among those mobilized, according to the president, will only rally Russian society and strengthen the current regime, and it does not matter whether the result will be victory or defeat.”
Putin watcher Valery Solovey, a former professor at the prestigious Moscow Institute of International Relations, said: “The intention [is] mobilize not 300,000, 400,000 or 500,000 but, with a bit of luck, up to two million people, including 300,000 women after the New Year holidays.
“In addition, there are plans to conduct a mobilization at the same time as the introduction of martial law.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, November 24, 2022.
He warned: “He is supposed to extend martial law either to all of Russia or to a significant part of its territory, including the Russian capitals – the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg.”
Many could be mobilized to work in factories supporting the war effort, according to the expert.
“You can be sent to strengthen the country’s defense capability,” he said.
Businesses could also be taken over by the state or handed over to pro-war cronies in the Kremlin, with Solovey saying: “There is an opportunity for this to be done under martial law.”
Solovey is confident that Putin will leave within the next 13 months, due to the spread of his cancer.
“He will most certainly leave before 2024,” he predicted.
“It is even possible that he announces his departure before the New Year, but it depends on his state of health.
The Putin expert also pointed to the sudden departure of former leader Boris Yeltsin, announcing on the eve of the new millennium that he was handing over to virtually unknown former KGB agent Vladimir Putin.
“If, on the morning of December 31, 1999, you were told that he would be retiring in the evening, would you believe it or not?
“No one would have believed it.
Meanwhile, any new conscription drive is believed to be hampered by a lack of military training facilities for the first wave, announced by Putin in September.
Many men have been thrown into the front line unprepared, sparking allegations that Putin is using them as cannon fodder.
Earlier this week, men mobilized by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine prepared for war by brawling in a Russian nightclub.
Shocking footage showed a scuffle in Yurga, Kemerovo region, during a night out from a training camp before the men were sent to Ukraine.
Russian conscripts and civilians rush and throw chairs at each other during fight at Russian nightclub
Russian conscripts and civilians fight in a nightclub in Russia before being sent to Ukraine
Uniformed conscripts are seen fighting with civilians in the latest example of poor discipline within Putin’s ranks.
The club was devastated as soldiers fought on their way to Ukraine.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Ukrainian President Zelensky said Putin’s forces must be withdrawn from all Ukrainian lands for there to be any hope for the war to end.
“We must return all land,” Mr. Zelensky said, “because I believe the battlefield is the way when there is no diplomacy.” If you can’t fully recover your land, the war is simply frozen. It’s a matter of time before it starts again.
The Ukrainian leader’s comments follow heightened fears among Western allies that the war could escalate – particularly if Ukraine tries to retake Crimea, the region illegally captured by Russia in its 2014 annexation.
The West fears that if Ukraine sought to retake Crimea, Putin could meet its threats and use nuclear weapons.
Zelensky admitted that the fate of Crimea is of increasing concern to the international community, but said that “if anyone is ready to offer us a path regarding the disoccupation of Crimea by non-military means, I will only be favorable”.