Immediately after Putin signed the orders, the governors of affected Russian regions lined up to assure their voters that there were currently no plans to enact the same kinds of restrictions contained in the decrees and most likely would be imposed in the annexed southern and southern regions. Eastern Ukraine.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was among these voices.
“We will take the necessary measures to improve the security of civilian and vital facilities,” Sobyanin wrote in Telegram on Wednesday. “At the same time, I must state that at the moment no measures have been taken to reduce the normal rhythm of city life.”
Few in the capital seem reassured.
Putin’s call-up of the soldiers came as a shock to the townspeople, who for seven months had done their best to get on with their lives. It is estimated that tens of thousands of men from Moscow have fled the country.
“One can believe it or not the politicians, they will do what they deem useful at any moment, so no, I am not reassured,” Alexandra, a 56-year-old retired accountant in Moscow who requested that her last name be withheld due to retaliation fears, told NBC News . “However, I doubt that life in Moscow would change much even if martial law was imposed – it never did, even in World War II!”
Pavel Chekhov, a prominent Russian human rights lawyer, warned his followers on Telegram that the answer to whether wartime restrictions could now be imposed across the country was, “Yes, they can.”
Andrei Kolesnikov, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says last month’s mobilization efforts show this.
“Moscow can be considered a special place, but given the fact that there is a hunt for men among the residents of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, I cannot say that the residents of the capitals are safe,” says Kolesnikov.
Independent Russian journalists Frida Rustamova and Maxim Tovkailo, in an article selecting Putin’s executive orders, note that the moves are legally unprecedented in modern Russia and “drastically expand the powers of the authorities in the conditions of the war with Ukraine and, in effect, introduce special rules for life throughout the country.” “.
In general, the orders – which are in many respects vague and unrestrained – give the Russian military, security services, and regional authorities significant power to mobilize local residents and businesses in support of a “special military operation”. The foundation has also been laid to raise the security level in any area to full martial law at any moment.
Besides the four Ukrainian regions now under martial law, six Russian regions bordering Ukraine are now under a “medium response level,” as well as Russia-controlled Crimea. This is essentially a “non-binding” customary law, allowing district governors to control movement on their lands and evacuate residents if necessary.
These areas have seen restrictions since the war began, but in recent weeks authorities have tightened their grip along the border. The impetus for this was the Ukrainian strikes on buildings and infrastructure in the internationally recognized Russian lands, such as Belgorod. And last week, mobilized soldiers opened fire on their comrades at a training ground in Belgorod.
The introduction of “soft” martial law in these areas indicates that the Kremlin expects Belgorod and other regions to feel more and more war – which is not excluded given the successful counterattack of Ukraine. Concerns about subversion within Russia are also growing.
The third level, “Hard Preparedness”, was imposed across the rest of Russia’s western and southern administrative regions that were not covered under the “Medium Response” level – this includes the Russian capital, Moscow. The rest of the country is subject to a “basic” level of readiness that allows for greater security restrictions.
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