At least 200,000 people are fleeing Russia to escape Putin’s military mobilisation, and tens of thousands more are avoiding mobilisation in Ukraine. Yet some voices claim that “the number of deserters is so negligible that it is strange to even begin to talk about it.” These cynical attempts to “make invisible” people who choose not to serve in the army, to defect or to emigrate for political reasons, must be opposed. Their voices must be heard and practical help must be given.
Anti-war speeches do not yet have the subversive power needed to stop the war, which is why it is necessary to create conditions that make it easier for other people considering a desertion to move from reflection to action. It is not a question of standing on the front line between the tanks of both armies and thinking that this will make the soldiers lay down their arms. It is about achieving the conditions at the international level that ensure that deserters can safely defect and live in another country without a risk of prosecution and social stigmatisation.
At present, opponents of the war in Russia and Ukraine have almost nowhere to go. They are trapped between national borders by their “own” governments, while neighbouring countries refuse to accept them and provide them with decent material conditions. If people’s choices remain limited to the options of “either being forced to serve in the army or face persecution”, we can hardly expect an increase in desertions. It is necessary to achieve the opening of borders not only for civilian refugees, but also for deserters from the armies on both sides of the war line. This is precisely what can significantly weaken the dynamics of war.
But this will never be done by negotiation with the various governments which are only the local minions of the world capital state, nor will it be done by a social-democratic call to “make concessions in the area of migration policy”. Our only weapon for us, the proletarians, is the class struggle, it is the mobilization in the streets, it is the sabotage of the economy, and it is the direct action against permanent war… It is then, and only then, that the frightened ruling class is forced to let go, which will never constitute for us the goal of the struggle but only a moment from which new offensives must be carried out against the whole of this world of misery and war…
After all, the proclamations of politicians criticising the aggression of the Russian army are an expression of hypocrisy whereas they refuse to share material conditions and resources with people who refuse to serve in the army. And besides, why and how would they act otherwise, these worthy representatives of the bourgeois order!? It is necessary to stand consistently against Putin’s aggressors, as well as against the statesmen of other countries who, through their own policies, allow the army to retain its war potential. It is the governments of the countries in which we live that effectively make it more difficult to desert, and thereby they contribute to the continuation of the war.
Those who are concerned about saving lives should be thinking about how to weaken the fighting capacity of armies, how to get soldiers off the front lines, how to get them to disobey, how to motivate them to use their weapons against those who force them to go to war. Let us think about this and organise direct actions that will turn these considerations into concrete results.
Some anarchists from the Central European region (November 2022)
English translation: The Friends of the Class War
Mutinies in the Russian army
Source in Czech: https://antimilitarismus.noblogs.org/post/2022/11/09/vzpoury-v-ruske-armade/
“It isn’t a question of how a chaotic and rebellious civilian populace can out-gun the well-organized, disciplined armies of the capitalist state in pitched battle, but of how a mass movement can cripple the effective fighting capacity of the military from within, and bring about the collapse and dispersal of the state’s armed forces.”
– Harass the Brass
In all wars, sooner or later desertion tendencies, sabotage of various kinds and mutinies by the rank and file appear. The motivations of those who take part in these activities can be varied and sometimes quite contradictory. In any case, it is always an important contribution to the subversion of the armed forces of the State, which weakens the army’s ability to wage war.
Despite the pro-regime and pro-war propaganda, information is spreading about the poor combat morale of soldiers in the Russian army. Soldiers refuse to follow orders, desert and organize mutinies.
In the Ulyanovsk region, for example, more than 100 mobilized men mutinied on November 2nd, 2022. The revolt at the training center was reported by the opposition news channel Serditaya Chuvashia (Angry Chuvashia), according to which more than 100 mobilized soldiers refused to leave for Ukraine.
“We refuse to take part in the special military operation and will fight for justice until we get the money promised by our government led by the Russian president! […] Why should we fight for this State and leave our families without support?” There are also more prosaic statements along the lines of “We’ve been fucked”.
The revolt was put down by OMON riot police and National Guard troops, directly subordinated to President Putin. Some soldiers were arrested by military police. All armories on the site were also sealed. All those detained during the rebellion were reportedly released without charge and the entire unit was allowed to return home for two days.
Another mutiny of mobilized men occurred in Kazan. The mobilized at the training base protested about the conditions they have to stand. They were given rusty automatic rifles, no water or food but they at least got some firewood. An officer came to negotiate with the soldiers. However, he quickly fled because of threats of violence.
A letter was also leaked in which the Russian Marines accused Vladimir Putin of leading them to the massacre. They accused Putin of treating them like “meat” and they blamed generals of using them as “cannon fodder”. The demoralized soldiers also claim that commanders are covering up the chaos in Donetsk and downplaying the number of casualties for fear of being held accountable.
The letter appeared as a mutiny broke out in the Russian armed forces, during which 2,000 conscripts surrounded General Kirill Kulakov and angrily shouted at him “Get out of here!”, “Shame on you” and “Down with [Putin’s] regime!”.
At one point during the revolt, the commander was heard saying, “I am answering your questions…”. But one of the enraged conscripts shouted: “Fucking general, you know where you’re sending us.”
One of the mutinies by Russian soldiers even resulted in the death of a colonel who was allegedly deliberately run over by a tank driven by his own subordinates. The incident is reported by Politico and other media. According to these sources, Russian Colonel Yuri Medvedev died in a Belarusian hospital after being the victim of a mutiny of his own subordinates. According to Politico, the Russian soldiers had run out of patience with the commander who had driven them to death.
Despite the proliferation of mutinies, Russian soldiers continue to be stereotyped by many as fanatical supporters of the Putin regime. This is a huge problem that needs to be addressed. Although information is leaking out about soldiers who refuse to obey, few resources go into networking or into practical support for desertions, sabotages and mutinies. If there are countless initiatives to support civilian refugees, there should be also enough of those who would provide support for army mutineers.
English translation: The Friends of the Class War
Source in Czech: https://antimilitarismus.noblogs.org/post/2022/11/18/vyzva-dny-mezinarodni-solidarity-s-dezertery/