Conscripting Russia; Depopulating Ukraine
UPDATE 14 OCTOBER 2022
Recent reports suggest that Moscow is now depopulating Kherson in Russian occupied South Ukraine, moving the population to Russia, ostensibly on the grounds that fighting makes it unsafe for them to stay there but we suspect this will be a one-way ticket for the Ukrainians living in Kherson, who the Kremlin plans to replace with Russians pursuant to their well-trodden policy of Russification of occupied territories.
The monument to native Moldovan deportees to the Russian mainland in the Soviet era, in front of the railway station in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. The deported population was replaced with native Russians.
30 SEPTEMBER 2022
On 21 September 2022, the Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering the general conscription of men of fighting age for the war in Ukraine. This resulted in a large number of Russian males seeking to leave Russia rapidly to avoid the general draft, an occurrence widely reported across the western media.
Of course this is not a real conscription. It is just a conscription of people who cannot afford to pay the bribe to avoid it. So it is more akin to a general taxation.
On 30 September 2022, the Russian President announced the annexure of Russian occupied Ukraine (aside from Crimea, that was annexed in 2014) into four new oblasts (regions) of the Russian Federation, with defined borders, thereby effectively bringing the war in Ukraine to an end. This act signified that Russian territorial ambitions in her war of aggression had reached a conclusion, and no further territorial annexation in Ukraine would be sought for now.
The Ukrainians were left holding their hands, as they do not have the military resources to take any of the territory Russia has now formally annexed. Much of it (Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) has been occupied since 3014. Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, the other two oblasts, were occupied in the relevant parts by the Russian Armed Forces without opposition in the early days of the war from 24 February 2022 onwards. If they were occupied so easily, then dislodging them will surely be correspondingly difficult. They have been there for over six months and Russia has integrated herself fully into those territories' governing structures.
It is as simple as that. Russia has abandoned Kharkiv oblast, that the Ukrainians retook in recent weeks with surprising speed (until you understand that the Russians had no intention of defending it) and the Russians have now paid down their territorial yardstick.
The war is all over bar the shouting. The free Ukrainian forces are themselves already acknowledging that they do not have the manpower or equipment to make significant inroads into Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia or Kherson provinces. So why should Russia recruit up to one million conscripts? The answer is: to repopulate southern Ukraine with Russians.
In case you find this absurd, consider the following, Mass migration of ethnic Russians to the provinces was virtually a guiding philosophy of the Soviet Union. Every Soviet leader did it, but Stalin was particularly enthusiastic about it at the end of World War II, repopulating Southern Ukraine with native Russian speakers so as to prevent Ukraine from splitting off and supporting a future variant of the Nazis (which is what a number of politicians in Kyiv had done during the war). The struggle to keep Ukraine Russian goes back over several centuries, as does the struggle to keep various other Soviet satellite republics Russian.
The theory underlying all these mammoth population transfers, which were particularly convenient at the conclusions of wars (when a lot of men would have died or moved away anyway), was that anti-Soviet and hence anti-Russian regional nationalistic movements would thereby be suppressed. The Russian speakers who moved to Southern Ukraine at the end of World War II had an implicit mandate to watch the native Ukrainians, who were not trusted by Moscow then just as they are not now. Hence the Russian speakers imported en masse were generally recruited into the KGB and its predecessors, to keep South Ukraine in a permanent state of totalitarian security.
We have every reason to believe that this is what Russia intends to do again, having done it before. The Russian solution to a restive Ukraine in the south is to repopulate it with Russian men, who will meet and marry Ukrainian women, have families with them, possibly even be subsidised for doing so, and will create a bulwark of Russian ethnic loyalty in the regions of Southern Ukraine that Moscow has seized.
Initially the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who are being conscripted will serve as an enormous buffer to deter Kyiv or her western allies, supporting her with armaments and money, from seeking to take back the territories Russia has formally annexed.
Then later they will be offered financial incentives in exchange for residence permits in the newly annexed oblasts (regions) of Ukraine, and a lot of them will stay in exchange for career perks and valuable associations with the FSB, monitoring the people of the region under their new Russian government and ensuring state security.
The new regime I'm Novorossiya - Russia's newly annexed provinces - will be totalitarian, in the sense that people will not be free to express political views or to undertake any activities in insistent with wholehearted support for the newly imposed Russian government.
In time, the very idea of successfully invading the new Russian provinces will become increasingly improbable to Kyiv and the West, because the contested territories will have been ethnically repopulated to a substantial degree by a fleet of young zRussian men and their families.
Such are the grim repetitive cycles of Russian history, disbursing native Russians around her colonial possessions to render rebellion or civil disorder all the more unlikely. The human cost is staggering; but the human costs of wars in Ukraine always have been. It regrettably seems to be a buffer region that Russian and Ukraine'an people are perennially condemned to fight over, using as primitive and vicious tools as the reverse ethnic cleansing we are now destined to watch as it unfolds.