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Putin’s New Nuclear Blackmail

There is no question that Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats must be taken seriously. But if the West gives in to his blackmail and allows him to claim Ukrainian lands and declare victory in the war, then the world order as we know it will collapse, and many other peoples will look to the future with dread.

ATLANTA – Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of Russia’s armed forces – supposedly a draft of 300,000 reservists, though there are reports that the draft will ensnare 1.2 million people. Upon hearing the news, I called a friend in St. Petersburg, who, through tears, explained to me that her 30-year-old son would rather go to jail than fight in Ukraine, the country where his Jewish-Ukrainian grandmother is buried. He now works remotely, for fear of being caught in the streets.

It was the second time I had ever heard my friend cry. The first time was on February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

My friend’s story is not unique. Across Russia, people who once viewed politics as distant and abstract are now acutely aware of – and often distraught by – political developments. But not all potential draftees are reacting to the mobilization – or “mogilization,” in current Russian parlance (mogila means “tomb”) – like my friend’s son. In fact, anyone hoping that popular resistance will thwart the mobilization is likely to be disappointed.

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