The existence of such an anti-Putin group will worry the Kremlin.

Stalemate. Six months into President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, this is the best word to describe the situation. Russian forces, sporting their half-swastika “Z”, have made no progress in the East over the past few months, but are still murdering innocent Ukrainian citizens. On Wednesday, the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, a Russian rocket strike on the small town of Chaplyne in the Dnipropetrovsk region, killed 25 people and destroyed considerable civilian infrastructure. Russian forces in the South, especially around Kherson, are experiencing a Ukrainian fight-back, not only from Ukrainian forces, eager to take their land back from the invaders, but also from a growing number of Ukrainian partisans. This is a new development in the war and echoes the experience of the German Nazis occupying France during WW2, when large numbers of French partisans constantly harassed the invaders.
Partisan “behind the lines” activity, although extremely dangerous, aims to absorb the attention of an occupying army and slowly bleed its capacity and morale in preparation for conventional offensives that will eventually liberate that territory. So far, partisan resistance in Ukraine has ranged from the simple posting of leaflets threatening Russian soldiers, to the destruction of transport infrastructure and equipment. Ukrainian officials confirmed last week that partisans had a hand in a successful strike on a Russian air base in Crimea destroying eight fighter jets. Just as happened in Vichy France between 1940 and 1944, the Ukrainian partisan resistance movement is expanding and intensifying across a wider area of Russian-occupied territory, which will require Moscow to deploy yet more forces to control the lands they have illegally seized, adding to Russia’s current woe—manpower.
Having lost about 80,000 troops, according to the latest estimates either killed or seriously wounded, the Russian military has proved to be far more fragile than Western experts predicted. A substantial number of its best soldiers have been killed and the Kremlin is desperately trying to recruit additional fighters, many of them mercenaries attracted by large pay-packets. There are even reports that Putin is trying to recruit jailbirds, by offering Russian prisoners commutation in exchange for fighting in Ukraine. The heinous crimes by Russian forces already witnessed in Ukraine will be seen as a mere warm-up if the Russian High Command lets a bunch of convicted criminals in Army uniforms loose on the battlefield with rifles and grenades. This, in a country that once prided itself on the might of its armed forces, will simply be seen as an act of desperation.
Even more worrying for the Kremlin are signs of partisan resistance activity developing in the Motherland. A week ago, a car bomb killed the daughter of one of Russia’s most notorious nationalist ideologues, Alexander Dugin. There is speculation that this was a “false-flag” operation, and sure enough, the Russian government, immediately blamed Kyiv for the killing, saying that the Ukrainians targeted Dugin out of revenge, since he was a fanatical advocate of the notion that Moscow should place reconquering Ukraine at the heart of a new Russian empire. Just hours after the bomb explosion, even before investigators had picked up the pieces, the FSB claimed that it had proof that the culprit was a Ukrainian secret agent, accompanied by her child and driving a Mini Cooper, now in Estonia 500 miles away. This claim is deeply suspicious. Many recall that seven years after his assassination, the FSB has yet to solve the mystery of who killed Putin’s arch-critic, Boris Nemtsov, on the edge of Red Square; yet in this case, the mystery was solved in just a few hours. Unsurprisingly, both Ukraine and Estonia have rejected this absurd Russian statement, saying that it is just the latest in a very long line of provocations by the Kremlin.
But here’s the interesting bit. Exiled former Russian MP Ilya Ponomarev is claiming that the assassination of Daria Dugin was the work of a little-known Russian partisan resistance group called the National Republican Army, operating in Russia. Ponomarev also claims that the group has already carried out several partisan actions in Russia.
So who are the NRA and what do they stand for? Confidential sources in Russia have supplied the latest NRA Statement of Purpose, which translated from the Russian, makes interesting reading. This is the first time it is believed to have been published.


We, Russian activists, military and politicians, now partisans and fighters of the National Republican Army, outlaw warmongers, robbers and oppressors of the peoples of Russia.
We declare President Putin a usurper of power and a war criminal who amended the Constitution, unleashed a fratricidal war between the Slavic peoples and sent Russian soldiers to certain and senseless death.
Poverty and coffins for some, palaces for others—the essence of his policy.
We believe that disenfranchised people have the right to rebel against tyrants. Putin will be deposed and destroyed by us.
Our goal is to stop the destruction of Russia and its neighbours, to stop the activities of a handful of Kremlin businessmen who have sucked on the wealth of the people and are committing crimes today inside and outside the country.
We declare officials of the government of the Russian Federation and regional administrations to be accomplices of the usurper—those who do not resign their powers will be destroyed by us.
We announce businessmen who earn their money on corruption and connections with officials—traitors of the Motherland and accomplices of the usurper. The property of those who do not repent and do not speak publicly against the government and its war, and they themselves, will be destroyed by us.
We declare employees of power structures as accomplices of the usurper. Those who do not lay down their arms and take off their shoulder straps will be destroyed by us.
We declare military cargoes and the cargoes of those who earn money in the war and help it financially—legal targets that we will destroy.
We remember the bombings of houses in Russia that brought Putin to power. We know the regime will not stop at any of the most heinous crimes, and we declare that we carry out actions only against persons of this power. We will not attack civilian objects and civilians themselves, and if Putin’s security forces will make such provocations and attribute the victims to us, do not believe them.
We call on the soldiers of the Russian army to stop shooting at our brothers from other countries—Georgia, Syria and others.
We call on all Russians to join our ranks and raise the white-blue-white flag of the new Russia instead of the tricolour disgraced by Putin’s government.
We call on those who are ready to fight to follow our example and overthrow this inhuman, hypocritical and anti-people regime!
We consider it unacceptable that Russians have begun to be defamed all over the world because of war crimes committed by those who have neither nationality nor fatherland, and who love only money and power.
The world is not an enemy of Russia, and Russia is not an enemy of humanity, and we will prove this by deeds.
We will give protection to all those who follow our call.
All who carry out our programme up to the change of regime are exempted from liability under the laws of the usurper.
After our victory, we will immediately release all those illegally convicted by the Putin authorities.
We will give freedom to all the peoples inhabiting Russia and build a new society—a society without oligarchs, without corruption, without arbitrariness of officials, and without humiliating poverty. A society in which everyone is rewarded according to their work. A society without wars and violence. A society in which power will belong to the people, where citizens will choose their own leaders and organise their life in their cities and villages themselves. A society in which the rulers will not be able to sacrifice human lives for their own greatness, but will think about education, medicine and scientific progress. A society in which everyone will be proud that he was born on the territory of Russia and will want to live in it.
Long live free Russia!
Wherever you are—fight like us, fight with us, fight better than us!
Let’s cleanse our Motherland from filth! Victory will be ours!
Keep in touch with us through the Rospartizan telegram channel.

Although there is no independent verification, the existence of such an anti-Putin group in a country which has reverted to the evils of the Stalinist era will worry the Kremlin. All critics of the Putin regime have been silenced, either by jail, as in the case of Aleksey Navalny, or by assassination, such as Boris Nemtsov, Alexander Litvinenko and hundreds of others. But in spite of relentless government propaganda, a growing number of Russians are becoming extremely concerned by the horrors of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the negative consequence that the destruction and mass killings by its forces are having on Russia’s image around the world. So some form of reaction such as the partisan NRA is inevitable.
Will it develop to be a real threat to the Putin regime? Watch this space.

John Dobson is a former British diplomat, who also worked in UK Prime Minister John Major’s office between 1995 and 1998. He is currently Visiting Fellow at the University of Plymouth.