March 21, 2023

  • Putin on Wednesday announced a seven-month partial military mobilization order in the Ukraine war.
  • But experts say the move is unlikely to bolster Russia’s struggling military performance.
  • Mobilizing troops takes time, training and infrastructure — all of which Russia lacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization of the Russian military in an effort to address the country’s glaring manpower problem amid the war in Ukraine. But more than seven months into the conflict, experts say Putin’s late-game decision is unlikely to turn the tide of the war anytime soon.

Putin launched his unprovoked war on Ukraine in February, but it took seven months and a series of recent Ukrainian victories for the president to publicly ramp up his country’s war effort.

Russia experts and foreign countries alike agree that Putin’s Wednesday morning speech — which included threats of nuclear power — was a sign that the country’s offensive is going badly, and Putin knows it.

The president announced this week that Russia would call up 300,000 reservists to join the war effort, but experts say mobilization at that level could take months to produce results. Ukraine, on the other hand, ordered full military deployment just days after the war began and is now reaping the benefits.

“It’s really hard to imagine a way that this would actually have a major impact on the battlefield,” Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a historian of the Soviet Union and US-Soviet relations, told Insider. .

Deploying reserves may take more than a month

One of the main obstacles to Russia’s unification aspirations is the country’s deteriorating military infrastructure.

“It’s one thing to call the guards, but to make them fight effectively, you have to put them through a training process that takes at least a couple of weeks,” Miles said. “But the Russians basically cannibalized their ability to do that.”

As Russia began to deal with its personnel problems at the start of the first war, military departments that lacked manpower turned to the country’s training infrastructure, Miles said. Officers who had worked in training facilities for years were suddenly thrust back into combat roles and forced to take their training equipment with them.

“As a result, all those training resources are empty,” Miles said, meaning Russia would be forced to send “under-trained” people to the frontline.

The country also has to contend with the bureaucratic logistics of integration: “We haven’t seen much evidence in the last six months that they can do it,” Miles added.

A Ukrainian soldier stands among the ammunition.

A Ukrainian soldier inspects ammunition left behind by Russian troops in a recently retaken area near Izyam, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.

AP Photo/Alexander Ratushniak

Russian troop morale is faltering, while Ukraine’s ‘sky-high’

Even if Russia could train and deploy tens of thousands of troops in the coming weeks, that may not be enough to solve the underlying problems plaguing its war effort, according to Robert English, a professor at the University of Southern California who studies Russia. Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe.

“It’s not a problem that a few hundred thousand troops can solve. It’s like a finger in the dike of something that’s very shaky right now,” English told Insider, explaining that another successful Ukrainian counteroffensive could crush Russian targets.

In addition to needing more manpower, Russia is at a technological military disadvantage, he said. The US and the rest of the West have provided Ukraine with massive military aid in the form of weapons, training and intelligence, all of which Russia is struggling to match. Whereas Ukrainian attacks are specifically targeted to hit Russian command posts or artillery holds, Russian attacks are far less reliable and sporadic, English says.

He also agreed that the conservators could take weeks or months to prepare, and even then they are unlikely to be as effective as their Ukrainian counterparts.

“These men are being called up, not wanting to be called up,” English said, adding that the new soldiers would mobilize a military that reports say has been nearly demoralized since the war began.

“Russian motivation among ordinary soldiers is waning. Ukrainian motivation is skyrocketing,” English said, noting that between varying levels of morale and improved military strength, one Ukrainian soldier is worth the same as five Russians.

And while Putin has only called in a few hundred thousand troops, for now, it will take much longer than that to deal with Russia’s imbalance with Ukraine, he added.

A Russian activist holds a sign among the protesters.

An activist takes part in an unauthorized protest on Arbat Street on September 21, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.

Photo by Contributor/Getty Images

Russian public resistance is growing

It’s not just military experts who have doubts about Russian collusion. Russian people Be cautious For example.

Throughout the war so far, Putin has benefited from the reality of the remaining war in Ukraine, seemingly out of sight and out of mind to the Russian public. But Wednesday’s announcement was a wartime wake-up call, Miles said.

After Putin’s speech, Russians across the country took to the streets, staging protests and chanting “no war”. OVD-DataAn independent monitoring group reported more than 500 arrests in various Moscow cities as of Wednesday evening

Meanwhile, several one-way flights outside Russia sold out hours after Putin’s speech, while prices for other tickets outside Moscow skyrocketed.

These are all signs that attitudes are changing in Russia.

“Who wants to spend the winter getting shelled in a trench in Ukraine?” Miles Dr. “No one.”

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