Would Russian President Vladimir Putin ever institute a civilian draft, or conscription, to finish off the Russia-Ukraine war?
There was speculation of such an approach Wednesday, as various reports flow in regarding the number of Russian troops killed or wounded in battle with Ukraine, a costly war that began on Feb. 24.
However, there are also reports of Russia threatening direct missile strikes against Ukraine, if the Ukrainian soldiers don't surrender or drop their arms.
According to Newsweek, "While casualty estimates vary depending on the source and are difficult to verify, Ukraine's estimate is consistent with numerous reports that the Russian army is suffering from a manpower shortage, particularly at the level of infantry foot soldiers.
"Yet despite this deficit of available frontline fighters, the Kremlin leadership has chosen to change its military tactics rather than to take the politically risky step of announcing a general mobilization."
On May 18, an opinion poll released by the Levada Center revealed that 74% of Russian respondents "personally support the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine."
However, this strong approval for Russia's "special operation" doesn't necessarily translate to a civilian willingness "among ordinary Russians" to put on a uniform and commit aggressive acts of war against neighboring Ukraine.
The Kremlin, of course, is aware of the supposed dichotomy of Russian citizens who favor the war with Ukraine ... but not at the risk of countless Russian lives.
"A serious mobilization would of course require involving groups within society that do not have a clear motivation to go and fight in Ukraine," Dr. Greg Yudin, a professor of political philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, recently told Newsweek.
"That's why the Kremlin prefers to keep things in a kind of gray zone in which there is fighting, but no official declaration of war or mass call-up of reserves."
That speculation was informally put to the test by Saint Petersburg blogger Alexander Krechetov.
Recently, while conducting man-on-the-street-type interviews, Krechetov would ask off-the-cuff to fellow Russians; and whenever someone answered "Yes" to whether they were a patriot, Krechetov would follow up by asking that person's "willingness to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the country.
"Respondents who demonstrate a verbal willingness to fight and die are offered the opportunity to add their name and contact information to a 'patriotic list of those who will be called up first in the event of a general mobilization.'"
According to Newsweek, while several of Krechetov's respondents signed the paper, a notable number refused to even take the proverbial bait.
Overall, the answers involving the men ranged from a willingness "to die as our grandfathers did" ... to "I don't want to," or "no, that's silly."
It's worth noting, according HRW.org, "the Russian Federation has had a conscription army since 1918. In recent years, approximately 400,000 young men between the ages of 18 and 23 were drafted each year to serve in the regular army, the Ministry of Internal Affairs forces, border troops, and other branches of Russia's vast armed forces."
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