Vladimir Putin is doubling down following a wave of Russian military setbacks in eastern Ukraine. The Russian leader announced plans to call up 300,000 reservists to active service, backed sham elections meant to pave the way for Russia’s annexation of separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine, and issued veiled nuclear threats.

Robert Orttung is a research professor of international affairs and a faculty member of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the George Washington University. He believes Putin’s latest moves will challenge the Kremlin’s ability to hide the truth about the war in Ukraine from the Russian people.

"Putin's move to mobilize 300,000 additional Russian soldiers breaks his long-term social contract with the Russian people - you stay out of politics and the Russian state won't intervene in your life. Now, Putin's decision to enter the war and the Russian military's ongoing atrocities are hurting Russians in terms of their physical safety and economic well-being.

Russian citizens can no longer stand on the sidelines or pretend that they don't know what is going on. This is a major change in the country and will force both Russians and the country's allies to clarify where they stand and take sides. "