- Putin on Wednesday announced a partial military mobilization order seven months after the Ukrainian war.
- But experts say the move is unlikely to boost Russia’s beleaguered military performance.
- The mobilization of the military requires time, training and infrastructure – all of which Russia lacks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday a partial mobilization of Russian troops to deal with the country’s prominent manpower problems during the war in Ukraine. But more than seven months have passed since the conflict, and Putin’s late-game decision is unlikely to change the tide of battle anytime soon, according to experts.
Putin launched an unprovoked war against Ukraine in February, but it took him seven months and Ukraine’s recent string of victories to publicly escalate his country’s war effort.
Russian experts and others agreed that Putin’s remarks Wednesday morning — which included the threat of nuclear force — showed the country’s incursion was slow, and Putin knew it.
The president announced this week that Russia would call in 300,000 reservists to join the fight, but that level of mobilization could take months to produce results, according to experts. Ukraine, on the other hand, ordered a full-scale military mobilization days after the war began and is only now beginning to benefit.
“It’s really hard to imagine how this could 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 Soviet and US-Soviet relations, told Insider.
Reservist deployment could take more than a month
One of the main obstacles to Russia’s mobilization aspirations is the country’s depleted military infrastructure.
“It’s one thing to call in the reservists, but to get them to fight, you need to put them through some sort of training process that takes at least a few weeks,” Myers said. “But the Russians have basically eaten away at their ability to do so.”
As Russia first began to face personnel problems early in the war, the manpower-starved military branch turned to the country’s training infrastructure, Myers said. Officers who had worked in training facilities for many years were suddenly pushed back into combat and forced to carry training equipment with them.
“As a result, all these training resources are empty,” Myers said, meaning Russia will be forced to send “undertrained” people to the front lines.
The country also has to deal with the bureaucratic logistics of mobilization: “We haven’t seen a lot of evidence in the last six months that they can do it,” Myers added.
Russian soldiers’ motivation is waning, while Ukraine’s is ‘sky-high’
Even if Russia is able to train and deploy hundreds of thousands of troops in the coming weeks, it may not be enough to address the underlying problems plaguing its war effort, said Robert English, a professor of Russia at the University of Southern California. Soviet Union, Eastern Europe.
“It’s not a problem that can be solved by a few hundred thousand troops. It’s a bit like the dykes of bigger things that are very unstable right now,” English told Insider, explaining that another successful Ukrainian counteroffensive could undermine Russian goals .
In addition to needing more manpower, Russia is also at a disadvantage in military technology, he said. The United States and other Western countries have provided Ukraine with massive amounts of military aid in the form of weapons, training and intelligence, which Russia is trying to match. English said that while the Ukrainian attack was aimed at hitting a Russian command post or artillery battery, the Russian attack was less reliable and discrete.
He also agreed that preparations for reservists could take weeks or months, and even then they were unlikely to be as effective as their Ukrainian counterparts.
“Those who were drafted, don’t want to be drafted,” English said, adding that the new soldiers would bolster an army that has reportedly been nearly demoralized since the war began.
“Russian motivation is waning among rank-and-file soldiers. Ukrainian motivation is high,” English said, adding that between varying levels of morale and advanced military power, one Ukrainian soldier is worth as much as five Russians people.
He added that while Putin has only summoned a few hundred thousand soldiers, for now, it will take more time for Russia to resolve its imbalance with Ukraine.
Growing resistance from the Russian public
It’s not just military experts who cast doubt on Russia’s mobilization.Russian people are increasingly vigilant as well as.
To date, throughout the war, Putin has benefited from the still-present reality of the war in Ukraine, which seemed invisible and absent-minded to the Russian public. But Myers said Wednesday’s announcement was a wartime wake-up call.
After Putin’s speech, Russians across the country took to the streets, sparking protests and chanting “no war”. OVD-InformationAn independent monitoring group reported that more than 500 people had been arrested in Moscow cities as of Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, several one-way tickets from Russia sold out hours after Putin’s speech, while prices for others from Moscow soared.
These all show that Russia’s attitude is changing.
“Who wants to spend the winter in the shelled trenches of Ukraine?” Myers said. “nobody.”