Consensus analysis (for November 28-December 04, 2022)
The Kremlin desperately needs military victories of any level to preserve support of the war in Russian society.
In this regard, even a small tactical success is now presented by the Russian media as a great military victory and a harbinger of future major breakthroughs. This emphasis on the smallest progress of Russian troops is due to several circumstances. The first is a time factor - the end of the year, as a time to sum up the results. With two major operational defeats – Kharkiv and Kherson – the Russian army should end this year with at least some successes in the Donbass, which have also not happened since mid-summer. The second circumstance is the ever-increasing number of dead and wounded Russian soldiers during hostilities and the ever-widening transition of the reality of "SVO" from the television picture to the everyday life of Russian families. Finally, the third important factor is the Kremlin's critical need to correlate in the public consciousness the partial mobilization and the successes at the front as a direct consequence of it.
Especially since the mobilization continues and is now not only "partial", but also "permanent". The official authorities and mass media do not emphasize its long-term nature, instead covering more broadly and positively the formation of volunteer units to be sent to the front. However, the mass nature of the mobilization dictates the constant presence of this topic in the federal and regional media: as before, in an indirect form, as a report on extraordinary events involving the mobilized. This also leads to a constant decrease in the share of motivated among the mobilized, since such people either voluntarily joined the armed forces earlier, or did so in the middle and at the end of autumn with the beginning of mobilization measures. Obviously, taking into account the decrease in motivation, as well as preparing for a potential general mobilization, Russian law enforcement agencies are already preparing an all-Russian database of registration and control of all conscript citizens.
Against the background of the urgent need for success at the front, the private military company "Wagner" took a fundamental place in the internal Russian discourse. This PVC is presented as the locomotive of the latest local military successes in the Donbass and thus captures public attention and the merits of the Russian armed forces. This is also evidenced by the much greater representation in the mass media of the owner of PMC "Wagner" compared to the absolute majority of senior government officials and even the heads of "SVO". This also indicates the crisis of state and military management that has emerged in the Russian Federation: when a private military structure replaces the regular armed forces, and its owner has greater public and political weight than the Minister of Defense.