About Putin’s Mobilization: Two Russians Who Fled Forced Military Service Now Seek Asylum In The U.S.
[guest post by Dana]
Per Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office, the two men arrived on Tuesday after landing on a beach near a small community of about 600 people on St. Lawrence Island:
[A] spokesperson for [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski, said… that the office has been in communication with the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection and that “the Russian nationals reported that they fled one of the coastal communities on the east coast of Russia to avoid compulsory military service.”
ICE officials are currently holding the two Russian nationals… The individuals were transported to Anchorage for vetting and screening after DHS was alerted of their arrival by local officials.
Putin’s mobilization has caused a mass exodus of Russian men desperate to avoid
death sentences conscription. Post-Soviet Central Asia is a go-to for many, especially Kyrgystan:
Since Putin’s announcement of Russia’s first military mobilization since World War II on Sept. 21, hundreds of thousands of Russian men have left the country to avoid being drafted to fight in Ukraine…With airfares skyrocketing, Russian men have been rushing to Russia’s southern border, since they can enter Kazakhstan visa-free with only their internal passports—a mandatory ID issued to all citizens—in hand, sometimes moving farther south to Kyrgyzstan, which has the same policy. That’s a lifeline for the estimated 70 percent of Russian citizens who are not in possession of a passport for international travel.
According to Kazakh officials, more than 100,000 Russian citizens, and possibly as many as 200,000, have crossed over into Kazakhstan since the start of mobilization, many of whom have continued farther south into neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
That is more than Putin’s original invasion force in Ukraine.
I also want to point out a troubling but fascinating piece over at The Bulwark by Natalia Antonova, who writes about the Russian death cult and the role that apathy plays in it:
…I have watched videos of hooded Russians throwing Molotov cocktails at enlistment offices since Vladimir Putin’s bizarre “partial mobilization” began. These people act in stark contrast to the Russians who have meekly sent their sons and husbands off to fight Putin’s illegal, barbaric war. It’s impossible to know the scale of actual resistance within Russia, although it is probably bigger than what we can quantify right now, because much of it is necessarily quiet.
This isn’t to say that I console myself with the myth of a horde of “good Russians” who will soon fix their screwed-up country. The Russian death cult is vast and strong. It will take much more than toppling Putin—or arranging a heart attack for him—to undo decades of repression and learned apathy. This is not my doomerism speaking, it’s just common sense.
When we think of the Russian “death cult,” we usually think of the people actively supporting war, hatred, and international isolation. But passivity—the act of doing nothing—is also an important part of this cult.
Resisting mobilization in Russia is hard, but not impossible. One of the worst potential outcomes, if you don’t get too loudly political in an enlistment center (a good way to wind up being tortured), is a prison term—a not very long one, and you’ll probably get stuck with a lot of like-minded people. The idea of not even trying to resist when the life of a husband and father is on the line is bizarre, but apathy is a heavy blanket, and just like a blanket, it can be a strange comfort. If you can convince yourself that nothing depends on you, then you don’t have to take responsibility.
Finally, Antonova explains why Ukraine can’t stop fighting, even as Putin threatens to use nuclear weapons:
Those who want Ukraine to stop fighting because Putin might use nuclear weapons don’t understand what it’s like to have a murderer’s hand at your throat. Clearly, that’s why Putin wants his threats heard: He is not just blackmailing Ukraine with his arsenal but the entire world, and expects those with less immediately at stake to be easier to persuade. Giving in to this blackmail would be like backing away from the strangler, letting him do what he will.