Russian Soldiers Are Complaining On Social Media – In The Past, Would They Have Been Shot? - Social Media Explorer
Russian Soldiers Are Complaining On Social Media – In The Past, Would They Have Been Shot?
Russian Soldiers Are Complaining On Social Media – In The Past, Would They Have Been Shot?

Recent videos have been circulated on the internet showing Russian soldiers complaining of the quality of their training and the state of their equipment. Throughout history, it has always been seen as a soldier’s right to complain – at least to a point.

Soldiers in the Soviet age were taught not to whine too loudly during wartime. It’s not surprising, then, that Russian soldiers have been complaining publicly. However, Red Army soldiers didn’t shy away from their feelings during World War II.

The book’s author, Dr. Matthew E. Lenoe (associate professor of history, University of Rochester), stated that the negative comments contained hints of a desperate military situation and accounts of hunger and cold, homesickness and insomnia. Stalinist Culture and Social Revolution are close to the Masses. Soviet Newspapers also have a closer relationship with them.

These diaries are the exact same picture that is shared on social media today: they were written by soldiers.

Lenoe said, “A lot patriotism and also discouragement.” Remember, complaining and discouragement does not always mean that you aren’t ready to fight. The situation in which soldiers complained about poor conditions during WWII was similar to the current one.

Many of the complaints aren’t really all that different today from what the Soviet soldiers grumbled about during the “Great Patriotic War” – the term the Soviet Union essentially described the conflict to its people. Military intelligence, as well as other branches, produced reports that were based on the information and recommended various ways to improve conditions at the front. Some of these recommendations were even implemented by the army.

Lenoe said, “Making complaints about poor food or incompetent staff would rarely result in serious discipline. Talk to your unit officer political officer. He will explain what you did wrong and help you shift your mindset.

But there are still some boundaries that cannot be crossed.

“Outright anti-Soviet and anti-Stalin comments would be run down by the NKVD and the (supposed) perpetrators punished, whether by execution, a GULAG sentence – often suspended until war’s end – or assignment to a ‘penal battalion’ that would be given the most deadly combat tasks,” Lenoe suggested. Today’s soldiers don’t complain directly about Putin’s rule. They also don’t often voice open discontent at the invasion. Instead, they state that they desire to be supported and supplied with the right information. And they desire competent leadership.”

Are Complaints Possible to Be Refused?

It may seem to observers that the Russian soldiers are voicing their opinions on the situation more than their counterparts in the past, but it must be remembered that during World War II, Americans in uniform also had their correspondence censored – and there were limits on what was tolerated when it came to soldiery grumbling in almost all armies.

The world has made it easier than ever to find out how everyone feels via social media. It may seem surprising that Russian soldiers, and Russians generally, have such a vocal response. Moscow doesn’t have any way of limiting social media access.

According to Dr. Matthew J. Schmidt (associate professor of political science, University of New Haven), “Putin did not build a Chinese-style firewall around Russian Internet.”

Schmidt said that the videos “come and go” because Putin did not understand the web. He left holes in IT infrastructure that allow videos of shocking and horrific battlefield outcomes (and critiques) to be uploaded to Telegram each day.

Instead of closing down Internet access earlier, the Kremlin created an expectation culture that would allow the Russian people to see lack of news as weakness or confirmation of their failure.

Schmidt suggested that “So, the Kremlin has been in an awkward position.” “It has to allow some measure of critique of the military, but not Putin, to come off as authentic — but not of the sort that might undermine the narrative for the war. That’s a hard balance to achieve.

It’s also unlikely that people who called out the military leadership will receive a NKVD response. In this case, soldiers would be shot for speaking too loud.

“Modern authoritarian states have to use the language of democracy and they have to exist in the era of social media – so blanket comparisons to a past without those constraints isn’t fair,” said Schmidt. Schmidt said that you could be brutal to local communities and still expect to have the information and blowback. It’s almost impossible to do that now. Putin’s regime will have to work with the same constraint as Soviets.

Even if some restrictions are in place, it is likely that the voices of those who are complaining will grow louder. This conflict, while it allows people to share their opinions with the rest of the world via a media outlet, is very different to the Great Patriotic War. As the nation was fighting to survive, the Red Army accepted the grumbling. The Russian soldier of today is likely to not know why he’s fighting.

“This is quite different from the situation today – Russian soldiers know that this is not a war for Russia’s existence,” added Lenoe. This makes them more willing to commit suicide.”

This is a point that they are making public via social media.

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About the Author

Adam is an owner at Nanohydr8. He really loves comedy and satire, and the written word in general.

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