Vital factors with Russia’s offensive campaign in Ukraine

When launching a new campaign, Russia will need to mobilize more troops to achieve the three-to-one ratio necessary for offensive operations on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told Fox News on February 2 that a new Russian offensive operation “has begun” and its scale may become more apparent in the coming weeks.

The statement was made by Mr. Zelensky after Ukrainian and Western defense officials repeatedly warned that Russia was about to launch a large-scale offensive campaign to change the military situation, in order to change the situation on the battlefield that had been deadlocked for many years. past month. However, analysts say that the biggest problem facing Russia today is the human resources needed for the offensive campaign.

In late January, General Eirik Kristoffersen, commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces, said that about 180,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in Ukraine since February. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The US coalition, in November last year estimated this number at about 100,000.

In September 2022, the Russian Defense Minister announced that more than 5,900 soldiers were killed in the military operation in Ukraine, but later did not provide updated figures.

It is likely that the figures released by the Russian Defense Ministry do not include the fighters of the private security company Wagner. Olga Romanova, head of a charity that supports prisoners in Russia, said last month that of the 50,000 gunmen Wagner recruited from prisons, 40,000 were dead or missing.

Former Russian soldiers are mobilized in Crimea, gathered in the city of Sevastopol on September 27.  Photo: AFP

Former Russian soldiers are mobilized in Crimea, gathered in the city of Sevastopol on September 27. Photo: AFP

Observers say the large loss of personnel on the battlefield is one of the reasons why Russia conducted a partial mobilization in September last year, mobilizing about 300,000 reservists.

Part of this force has been deployed to Ukraine, bringing the number of Russian troops fighting there to 320,000, according to Ukrainian intelligence estimates. Western defense officials say Russia has between 150,000-250,000 reservists who have received additional military training in the past few months and are likely to be sent to the battlefield for a new offensive campaign.

However, military experts say that this force is not enough for Russia to launch a new large-scale offensive operation. Normally, the offensive force would have to be three times larger than the defender to gain an advantage on the battlefield.

According to the Institute for Strategic and International Studies, Ukraine currently has about 311,000 regular troops, not counting volunteers and militias. To maintain an offensive advantage, Russian forces will have to mobilize at least 900,000 troops for the new campaign.

Many pro-Kremlin military commentators have urged President Vladimir Putin to issue a new mobilization order to add some 500,000 troops. However, the Kremlin has denied this possibility.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last month proposed increasing the Russian military force from 1.1 million to 1.5 million, and was approved by President Putin. It is not clear how Russia will increase the size of its army if it does not issue a mobilization order.

Both the Kremlin and political institutions in the Russian military are increasingly sending the message that the war in Ukraine is necessary to protect Russia and that this is Moscow’s confrontation with the West.

In a recent interview, General Valery Gerasimo, the commander-in-chief of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, said that Moscow is fighting “almost entirely” the West.

Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, also said last month that the West is “increasingly eager to defeat Russia” and that those who want to destroy Russia need to understand that it “means the end of the world”. “.

Dmitry Medvedev, vice chairman of Russia’s Security Council, even warned that Moscow might have to use nuclear weapons to avoid defeat if the war in Ukraine doesn’t go as planned.

Speaking on February 2 at the 80th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi troops in Stalingrad, now the southern city of Volgograd, Putin compared the struggle against Germany. Nazis during World War II with their military campaign in Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, we see that the ideology of fascism in new forms and manifestations once again directly threatens the security of our country,” he said.

At the Leningrad Museum of Defense and Encirclement, a new exhibition was held to educate “unknown fascist lessons”, as well as to introduce Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles seized by Russia.

“It makes sense that a museum dedicated to the war against fascism would support the campaign against neo-Nazis in Ukraine,” reads a press release about the exhibition. Observers say that these are efforts to stoke nationalist fervor of the Russian people, to support the campaign to attract manpower for the military operation in Ukraine.

Local recruitment centers in Russia are showing signs that they are preparing for another round of mobilization. Rumors of a new mobilization of troops have caused some Russians with dual citizenship to rush out of the country.

Russian servicemen talk to reservists at a gathering point in the town of Volzhsky, Volograd region, Russia September 28.  Photo: Reuters

Russian servicemen talk to reservists at a gathering point in the town of Volzhsky, Volograd region, Russia September 28. Photo: Reuters

In order to prevent the scenario of young people escaping from the army, as in the mobilization at the end of last year, Russia has tightened restrictions on leaving the country, including requiring male citizens to notify in advance the time and location of exit.

The revised traffic law in parliament last month also requires “vehicles belonging to Russian transport companies, foreign transport companies, Russian citizens, foreign citizens, stateless persons and participants other traffic” must notify in advance the time of crossing the Russian border.

Jamie Dettmer, analyst at Politicosaid that these are signs that Russia has realized that manpower is vital to launch a spring offensive in Ukraine, when the troops on the battlefield are now almost equal.

“This means that General Gerasimov will need more troops if he is to achieve the three-to-one ratio that military doctrine considers necessary for an offensive force,” Dettmer said.

Thanh Tam (Theo Politico)

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