Mobilizing troops, Russia is difficult to change the situation of the battlefield in Ukraine

It is difficult for Russia to effectively use 300,000 summoned reservists and they will not have a significant impact on the Ukrainian military situation, according to experts.

President Putin on September 21 issued an order to mobilize 300,000 reserve troops, a day after announcing the holding of referendums on the annexation of Russia in four regions, including Donetsk, Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south of the country.

According to political and military analysts, the decision is a sign of how difficult Moscow is on the Ukrainian battlefield. They come after a series of flashy military defeats by Russian forces that forced them to withdraw from Kharkov province, northeastern Ukraine, earlier this month, and prompted hard-line voices within Russia to call on the government. stronger hand in the confrontation with Kiev.

A Russian tank is abandoned in the city of Izyum, Kharkov province, northeastern Ukraine, on September 14.  Photo: WSJ.

A Russian tank is abandoned in the city of Izyum, Kharkov province, northeastern Ukraine, on September 14. Image: WSJ.

Edward Stringer, a former official at the British Ministry of Defense, said that in the current state, the Russian armed forces are not capable of receiving, training and deploying hundreds of thousands of new recruits.

Reluctantly mobilized troops can help bolster Russia’s defenses but are unlikely to play a significant role in offensive operations, said Rob Lee, an expert on the Russian military at the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies. Foreign America, review.

“They could not effectively carry out this mobilization order,” said Dara Massicot, an expert on Russian defense at the RAND Corp., a research institute in the US. According to her, because of the lack of time, Russia will be forced to regroup and send quickly to the front in less than optimal conditions.

Russia assembled about 200,000 troops, mostly professional ground forces, when it began its special military operation in Ukraine in late February. Moscow is said to have tried to add tens of thousands of troops afterward to boost the momentum, but these efforts have shown signs of waning since late June.

Ukrainian soldiers seize a Russian tank left behind near Izyum after retaking the city and surrounding areas in the Kharkov region in a counteroffensive earlier this month.  Photo: WSJ.

Ukrainian soldiers seize a Russian tank left behind near Izyum after retaking the city and surrounding areas in the Kharkov region in a counteroffensive earlier this month. Image: WSJ.

“President Putin has always opposed mobilizing troops but was forced to do so. This means his plan has failed,” said Marat Gelman, an opposition politician in Russia who served as a campaign adviser. running for Putin, commented.

Nationalist commentators and politicians in Russia have been calling on the government to order the mobilization of troops for months, pointing out that Ukraine has gradually built up its manpower advantage through mobilization and training. hundreds of thousands of troops since February until now. Besides, they also gradually filled the gap in firepower with Russia thanks to the aid of modern Western weapons. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian recruits are being trained in Britain and other European countries. In addition, Ukraine also has a steady supply of military supplies, from uniforms to radar systems from the US and its allies.

While the former Soviet Union had a system of backup military facilities, reserve training units, and reserve weapons and equipment for immediate deployment, today’s Russian military no longer exists. maintain this. Many officers and non-commissioned officers, who fought in Ukraine and were able to command and lead newly deployed units, were killed or wounded.

This fact is part of the reason why experts estimate that it will be difficult for Russia to effectively use the 300,000 newly deployed soldiers on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Rob Lee said the biggest immediate impact of the mobilization order is to prevent active Russian troops from withdrawing when their contracts expire and Russia can deploy more forces to Ukrainian territories that Moscow controls. once they are merged. According to Putin’s decree, professional servicemen serving in the armed forces will automatically renew their contracts until the authorities decide to end the period of partial mobilization.

Western sanctions against Russia could make it impossible for Moscow to compensate for equipment losses on the battlefield. According to the open source consulting firm Oryx, the number of Russian tanks destroyed or seized has reached 1,155. Hundreds of armored personnel carriers, self-propelled artillery, tanks and other military vehicles were also left behind as the Russian army rushed to withdraw from Kharkov.

“Putin’s order to mobilize troops is a failed proposal,” said Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Ukraine’s former defense minister. “Russia will have nothing to equip them, no officers to command them and no means to move them.”

The Russian military is weakened in Ukraine and the situation will not change significantly with President Putin’s partial mobilization order, Zagorodnyuk added.

Even so, the deployment of new recruits, even if they are ill-equipped and untrained, could help stabilize Russia somewhat in the coming months, especially as winter begins and making Ukrainian offensive operations more difficult.

“What Russia can hope for is that these people will fight for their own lives, shoot back because they were shot, and follow orders from their commander because otherwise they could be taken to court,” Alexander Baunov said. , a senior expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, based in Washington DC, USA, commented.

Some experts point out that in Putin’s decree, it is detailed that “reservists who are mobilized will receive the same salary as full-time professional servicemen”, whose incomes are much larger than the average. Russia’s average salary. That could make the proposal attractive to young people in provinces with lower wages than in big cities.

Mick Ryan, a retired Australian general, said that Putin’s intention was to “prolong the war and wait for the Western countries to get bored”. The Russian president can bet that Western support for Ukraine will wane as they face the winter’s energy and economic impact.

“Russia’s combat performance has declined from the end of the hostilities to the third and fourth months, this is an exhausted force that needs to be rotated,” he wrote.

“The number of troops mobilized is not enough to make any decisive contribution or change the situation of the conflict. This move is more about rotation and replacement of forces to prolong hostilities,” Ryan commented. .

The momentum of Ukraine's counterattack in the Kharkov and Kherson provinces.  Graphics: WP.

The momentum of Ukraine’s counterattack in the Kharkov and Kherson provinces. Graphics: WP.

Vu Hoang (Theo WSJ, AFP)

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