Demonstrations Against the Mobilisation - Great! Getting Rid of Capitalism that Demands our Blood - Even Better!

In an address to the nation from Moscow on Wednesday 21 September, Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservists, with a view to launching a new offensive on Ukraine, which first began on 24 February.

This means the war has just reached a new, higher level. The mobilisation of the population is a very serious issue indeed. It means a situation that has not been seen in Europe for a long time, a war between two European countries. And now, the population will have to be made to accept this decree.

Half a million Russians(1) had already left the country since the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Now, the phenomenon has seen an increase since Wednesday’s announcement. The sites of airline companies were stormed following Putin’s speech. Queues also formed at the border posts with Georgia and Finland overnight. Naturally, this exodus only consists of Russians who have enough money to flee in the first place.

Conscription is also the order of the day in Ukraine. As one Oleksiy told a journalist from Slate, “some people are saying that the government will use this app [Diia, a government app that digitally centralises personal administrative documents] for a massive mobilisation, and then to locate the conscripts precisely and immediately… so no chance of escaping conscription then.”(2) Since 24 February, the first and harshest of these restrictions was imposed: from then on, Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 were no longer allowed to leave the territory.(3) According to the repressive plan, conscription became a new form of punishment: instead of a fine or a prison sentence, those who didn’t respect the law were forced instead to go to the recruitment centre. In Russia too, the government now offers prisoners freedom after the war if they accept to sign up to the battalions.

In Russia, Street Demonstrations are a new Fact of Life

Across Russia, the announcement of the mobilisation was met with spontaneous demonstrations throughout the day in 39 cities, notably including Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg,(4) and at least 1,332 people were arrested on Wednesday.(5) It was one of the most important protests in the country since those that followed the announcement of the offensive on Ukraine.

Protesters chanted “No war!” and “No mobilisation!”. In some police services, the “Fortress Plan” was put into action to protect police buildings. But the demonstrations have not stopped, and between 24 February and 21 September, arrests have totalled 16,500.

Russians arrested during the demonstrations against the partial mobilisation have now had conscription orders imposed on them during their detention, according to the human rights defence group OVD-Info. In Moscow, a protester was informed that he faced ten years in prison if he refused. According to OVD-Info, at least 1,310 protesters were arrested yesterday (21 September) in Moscow alone. Despite the extreme difficulty of protesting under this regime of terror, demonstrations have taken place all over. “Everyone is scared. I’m for peace and I don’t want to have to shoot. But it’s very dangerous to go out at the moment, otherwise there would have been many more people,” a protester explained in Saint Petersburg.

And now, will we see a reaction by workers, and the population as a whole?

The ruling class fosters no illusions. Russian deserters have been refused by some countries. Jan Lipavský, the Czech minister of Foreign Affairs, declared in a comminuqué obtained by the AFP, “I understand that Russians are fleeing from ever more desperate decisions by Putin. But those running because they don't want to fulfil a duty imposed by their own government, they don't meet the criteria for a humanitarian visa.” Finland(6) is currently the only EU member state bordering Russia that is allowing Russian citizens to pass through, even if they have Schengen visas. The imperialist ruling classes may clash in war, but when it comes to reactions against the war and refusals to become their cannon fodder, they are united in refusing to accept those who “don't want to fulfil their [patriotic] duty imposed by their own government.”

Obviously, war is the way of life for a ruling class in crisis. If the populations no longer march to offer their blood, imperialism goes bankrupt. Today as yesterday, the sacrifice of the populations is the inevitable result of this barbaric way of life. The only force capable of squaring up to the ruling class is the working class, starting with a mass strike. It is only through their struggle that the murderous arms of the rival imperialisms can be paralysed.

This is why we must break our chains to access a better world, against a sinking capitalism which is taking on water on all sides: economic crisis, health crisis, environmental crisis, famine, soaring inflation laying waste to our wages. We must resolutely support the refusal of proletarians on both sides of the current conflict to serve as cannon fodder. The only battle worth fighting is the anti-capitalist class struggle against the descent of society into barbarism.

Bilan et Perspectives
22 September 2022


Image: V. Kirillin,

(1) Le Monde, 22 September 2022


(3) The EU countries bordering Ukraine have respected Ukraine’s decision since then.


(5) 479 detained in Saint Petersburg, 49 in Yekaterinburg, 30 in Perm,26 in Chelyabinsk, 23 in Ufa, 18 in Krasnoyarsk, 17 in Voronej, 14 in Krasnodar, 13 à Tver, 12 in Saratov, 11 in Kaliningrad, 9 in Irkoutsk, 8 in Arkhangelsk, 6 in Novosibirsk, 4 in Ulan-Ude, etc....

(6) We have learned this morning that Finland has also closed its borders to Russian conscripts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022