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The mobilization of Russian reservists decreed by president Vladimir Putin this Wednesday and which affects, in this first phase, 300,000 people, is not only significant because it is the first time that Russia has launched a militarization of this type since the Second World War, but also because it is the clearest proof of the enormous concern in the Kremlin in the face of a military conflict of which it has lost control. Putin's cavalier tone introducing the threat of a nuclear war - "This is not a hoax! Russian citizens can rest assured that the territorial integrity of our motherland will be guaranteed" - can be read as an impossible warning or as an ultimatum from someone who is desperate. There is little evidence to support one theory or the other, but it is important to note that, at present, the Russian president has in play not only defeat or victory in the war, but also his own political survival in a context in which the Russian population's fear plays a major part but has ceased to be the only vector involved.

The desperation of thousands of Russians looking for planes to any possible destination with the sole aim of leaving the country from one of the airports with international flights perfectly reflects the fear and desperation of the Russian people. Similarly, the fear that a desperate Putin will carry out actions that are difficult to imagine today, with a considerable cost in human lives for the population. Above all, because the 300,000 people mobilized from the army reserve are a little more than 10% of the estimated two million reservists that exist in Russia because they have completed military service, which is compulsory in that country.

Throughout the day, the news from Russia spoke of protests with hundreds of arrests. It was the first public expression from a population that does not want war with Ukraine, much less to take part actively in it. In a country in which protests are prohibited and the consequences of political dissent are already known, it is difficult to imagine how the regime will react. As well, the duration of the protests and whether it is just a one-off reaction, or rather, that we are at the beginning of an unstoppable escalation. The invasion that began on February 24th has turned into a real headache and what was supposed to be a military walkover a few days long has turned into an interminable military conflict in which Moscow's casualties are already counted in the thousands. As the weeks have gone by and the bad news has arrived, public opinion has begun to slowly turn around, weakening Putin to a degree that is not precisely known.

In this context, the hasty referendums on annexation by Russia which Putin is trying to hold in the occupied areas of Donetsk and Lugansk, have received a strong response from the United States president, Joe Biden: "They are an extremely serious breach of the UN Charter". We must add the objective difficulties for any mediation, with the Turkish president Erdogan having got burnt for his trouble, as he pointed out that Putin would be ready to end the war as quickly as possible, but also asked him to return all the invaded areas, including the Crimean peninsula. It seems that nothing will stop Putin in these referenda: they might not obtain international validity, but Putin has already stated that their recognition in the rest of the world matters very little to Moscow.

The multitude of international actors involved in this bellicose conflict, rather than providing an opportunity for peace, seem to have inexorably entered a narrow pathway in which the war is intensifying. It is very bad news and threatens unpredictable consequences.