by Yorgos Mitralias
Why is Putin now “massively” bombing Ukrainian cities? Why is he sending his missiles against their infrastructures and populations? Why is he massacring civilians? Simply because he has already lost the war! Because his army can’t break the resistance of the Ukrainians. Or rather, because his army is retreating, accumulating defeats, demoralized and in danger of collapsing.
So, in desperation, Putin dismisses one after the other his generals and changes his tactics. He resorts to « drastic measures » with a single objective: to break the morale of the Ukrainians, of the Ukrainian population. It’s a lost cause. The proof? Here are two (very important) historical precedents among many others: The Americans did it in Vietnam before him, and in a much more deadly way, but they only strengthened the determination and the fighting spirit of this small martyred people. And before them, Adolph Hitler systematically razed Coventry and part of London, without breaking the morale of the British. Why? Because these people believed deeply in the rightness of their fight, and moreover had the material means (a good organization and a good army) to resist and to win. Exactly like the Ukrainians today…
However, neither the courage, the talent, the good organization and the determination of the Ukrainians, nor their armament by the Westerners would be enough to provoke the current wrecking of Putin’s imperialist projects if there were not a totally unexpected reality: the truly catastrophic state of the Russian army ! Why “unexpected”? But, because surprised by the dismal performance of the Russian army is not only Putin. Surprised are also all the rulers and especially all the Western strategists, who had a high idea of the Russian army, its armament, its leadership and its troops.
First of all, the armament of this Russian army leaves a lot to be desired, being insufficient and old. Whose fault is this? Obviously, it is the corruption of its officials who hide the truth while pocketing the ever-increasing funds invested by the Kremlin in the necessary modernization of its armed forces. This is how a few months of war were enough for the Russian army to run out of ammunition, and to be forced to buy some from North Korea (shells, bullets…) and from Iran (drones) or to “borrow” some from Belarus (tanks).
But that’s not all. For months now, the Russian army has been sending into battle armor from the 70s or even 60s (!) and launching Soviet-era missiles against Ukrainian cities, which have the defect of aiming at targets in a very approximate way and with huge margins of error. In general, the logistics of the Russian army is more than problematic and it is not Putin’s chief propagandist and personal journalist, the infamous Vladimir Soloviev, who would deny us, when, night after night in his flagship program on Russian television, he railed against “those in the Ministry of Defense”, holding them responsible for the pitiful state of the Russian military, which lacks everything, even food, weapons and uniforms!
This is one of the reasons why the Kremlin is increasingly calling on private militias to wage war in place of its armed forces. First of all, it is the mercenary group “Wagner” of the former bank robber and common law prisoner Prigozhin, who got rich by obtaining (from Putin) the privilege to supply the Kremlin but also the Russian army through his catering company! Prigojine regularly insults Russian generals and their defense minister, not hesitating to ask for their retirement or even their… execution. Recently, he has been making headlines by sending long videos to the media in which he stages himself, for example, in the courtyard of a prison among dozens of common law prisoners that he recruits, promising them, in very vulgar and crude language, a pension if they manage…to survive after six months of service in the ranks of “Wagner”! See the above video. However, Putin’s recourse to the services of the mercenaries of Prigozhin or Chechen Kadyrov is not without danger: these two hoodlums, who have become warlords, do not lack political ambition and no longer hide the fact that they would like to take control of the Ministry of Defense or even… to become caliph instead of the caliph…
However, it is not only Prigozhin and his friends who recruit their mercenaries in the prisons and the underbelly of society. The Russian state and its army are doing the same, even publishing classified ads promising reduced sentences and other benefits to those concerned! And all this before the recent “partial mobilization” which revealed to everyone the reality of a Russian army which is a real repellent for the youth of the country. Indeed, nothing is more eloquent than the spectacle of these hundreds of thousands of young Russians who flee their homeland by all means, preferring to go into exile rather than serve in a dilapidated army which treats -traditionally- its soldiers with sadism, worse than animals!
The result of all this is currently before our eyes in Ukraine: Russian soldiers who offer more and more the image of demoralized, undisciplined, ill-equipped soldiers, abandoned to their fate by their superiors, often hungry and drunk, who pillage, rape and massacre civilians. Knowing the objections – sometimes vehement – of some people when they hear about the rape of civilians committed by Russian soldiers, we hasten to answer them in advance: unfortunately, what is a tradition in all armies of the world, has taken on nightmarish dimensions among the Russian military. A historical but significant example: “the number of women raped in Germany in 1945 by Red Army soldiers is estimated at nearly two million” (1). Mass rapes that often ended with the atrocious murder of the victims, while the soldiers’ superiors “tolerated” or even encouraged their acts.
There was one exception that confirms what was the rule: the famous Soviet general Koniev, had 40 of his soldier-rapists shot in front of all the others, and the result was that “there were no cases of rape after that”. Knowing again in advance the objections of some people, such as “this is all Western propaganda”, we reply that the main testimonies about these mass rapes come from the Soviet military who were eyewitnesses. One of the best known of these eyewitnesses was Lev Kopelev, then a Red Army captain serving in Berlin, who had the courage to denounce, in the midst of Stalinism, these mass rapes and other abuses against civilians committed by Red Army soldiers. A “detail” that speaks for itself: For his heroic act, Lev Kopelev, was sentenced to 10 years in the Gulag for… “propagation of bourgeois humanism and mercy towards the enemy”!!!
But, the usual “disbelievers” will say, it is normal that one of the most famous dissidents like Lev Kopelev denigrates the Red Army. The problem for these eternal “disbelievers” is that Kopelev was a dissident to the end, but also a Communist (he asked to be reinstated in the CP after his rehabilitation in 1956). And if they persist in objecting, there is another testimony, even more damning, that of another officer but also journalist of the Red Army, who made the whole war campaign, from Stalingrad to Berlin. This is the testimony of perhaps the greatest Soviet writer, Vasily Grossman, who in several of his books depicted the greatness and heroism as well as the war crimes of the Red Army like no other.
Finally, beyond all its perversions and serious defects, what the Russian army lacks most today is the conviction to fight for a just cause. And it goes without saying that Putin’s evocation of the allegedly historical rights of the eternal Great Russia over Ukraine, or worse, the designation of Ukrainians by Putin’s friends as “satanists”, “devils”, “sorcerers” and other “demons” who must be exterminated, can only inspire those who are already convinced. That is to say, the racist, fascist, obscurantist and neo-Stalinist chauvinists of another age who form the clientele of the Putin regime.
All the more reason to ask again and again a question that remains unanswered: what are they doing in this arch-reactionary, criminal and sinking galley people who call themselves leftists?…