It is written with a “d” and it is not a mistake – “No” of mogilization”. This is a slogan born on Tuesday night by the Belarusian opposition. The play on words comes from the Russian “mogila”, which in Bulgarian is “grave”. With all the exclamation, the Vesna Center wants to say that the partial mobilization that Putin announced for Russia will lead the soldiers precisely to the grave, and not to anything else.
Belarus is a country that has had half a foot in the war since the beginning. The fears are that the authorities there may come up with something similar, as the Russian ones.
But let’s return to the Kremlin.
What Putin and Shoigu said
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” for Russians on Wednesday, starting the same day. Immediately after him, the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu gave the main detail: 300 thousand people are getting used.
According to Putin, these will be only reserve military personnel, mostly those who have served and have experience and military specialties. He said that those mobilized would be further trained for the needs of the “special military operation”.
Putin has not declared martial law. He specified twice that the mobilization was partial.
Shoigu added that a “full” mobilization would correspond to 25 million people.
It all happened very quickly, in hours. On Tuesday afternoon, the Russian occupation authorities in 4 Ukrainian regions said that as early as September 23, they are starting to hold referendums on direct accession to Russia. The Russian Duma approved them in minutes.
The parliament in Moscow even adopted simultaneously in the second and third reading amendments to the Criminal Code, which provide for imprisonment for evasion of mobilization and for surrender. In the entire Soviet and Russian history, there have never been such texts, Current Time TV reported.
These amendments must have been extremely urgent, because in the commotion a Russian lawmaker was found to claim that President Putin signed them even before they were voted on in the final reading.
A statement by Putin and Shoigu was scheduled for 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, but after a four-hour wait, pro-Kremlin media reported that their events were being postponed to Wednesday. So it happened.
How many people did Russia attack in February?
In the fall of 2021, Russia had amassed over 50,000 of its troops on the border with Ukraine, which by early February 2022 had grown to about 150,000. Western experts and intelligence agencies have argued that these forces are sufficient to attack Ukraine, but not to hold the territory the forces would seize.
When the Russian military on the border was already approx 180,000, The American Institute for Military Studies and the specialist publication Janes Defense reported that Russia has already accumulated military potential sufficient for a full-scale war. Then the calculation stopped because the war itself began.
Months later, the Conflict Intelligence Team reported that the aggression was carried out by approx 190,000 people, which did not include the Russian navy or aviation.
What does this “300 thousand people” mean now
If we’re just talking about a number, 300,000 mobilized troops are sufficient to renew Russian attacks, seize more territory in Ukraine, and keep it permanently in Russian hands. If the number is added to the unknown number of Russians already fighting, it means extraordinary power of the Russian army in Ukraine.
But there are a few “buts” of great importance.
First: how will these soldiers get to the front
The Ukrainian counteroffensive of late August and early September destroyed Russian military bases and supply routes. This led to the fact that the Russian army was effectively broken into three parts, which could not come together because three rivers with blown bridges blocked their way.
The main railway junction for supplies through Kupyansk was also destroyed. Ukraine regained the territories around Kharkiv, through which other supplies also passed.
According to the military expert Jan Mateev mobilization means two modes of transportation.
The first is from the birthplaces of future soldiers to places near the Ukrainian border. The second is from the border to the front itself. The second is very difficult because of the Ukrainian counter-offensive. And the first is disorganized and poorly controlled over the years, he says.
According to him, the Russian army has not changed its mode of transportation since World War II until now. This means that it mainly relies on rail transport.
Second: if they get to the front, how long will it take them
If Russia follows the usual order of combat operations, the new Russian soldiers would reach the front in January, according to Ruslan Leviev, founder of the Conflict Intelligence Team. He counted as follows – from today, at least two or three weeks are needed to mobilize the people and gather them into military districts. At least a month is needed to gradually transport so many people to the border and equip and outfit them.
The standard absolute minimum for training is one more month. Next comes the difficult road to the front line.
But in the meantime, the war continues, and Ukraine advances. Leviev clarifies that so far Russia has shown disregard for standard preparations for sending to the front, so it could send absolutely untrained people if it needs to get there quickly.
Third: if they get to the front faster, will they have anything to fight with
Four military experts reported Tuesday and Wednesday that the new recruits will not have access to enough combat equipment, and if they do, that equipment will be outdated. That’s what they think Yuri Fedorov, Oleg Zhdanov, Mikhail Samus and Yan Mateevinterviewed by Navalny’s team, TV Dozhd (“Rain”) and TV Current Time.
The lack of equipment does not mean that Russia does not have one, but that it will be physically difficult for it to deliver it. As for the modernity of the available Russian equipment, it was poorly assessed as early as May 2022. It was clear from the missiles fired at Odessa and Nikolaev at that time that they were of an old generation, which means that the more modern weaponry was obviously runs out. Western sanctions imposed on Russia prevent it from producing new ones.
On Wednesday, experts cited another example: currently fleeing Russian soldiers are being abandoned at the front T-62 tanks. This means that the tank is a 1962 model that is transitional between World War II armament and more recent times. Relatively more advanced are the T-64 and T-72 tanks with which Russia entered Ukraine, but they are either finished or in the process of being finished, Mateev said.
Fourth: how many fighting Russians died
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia has so far lost nearly 6,000 people in the war in Ukraine. The number is greatly underestimated, but no one dares to say what the true number is.
Indirect data indicate that the Russians killed are at least 50,000. This much compensation was calculated by the Ministry of Finance for the needs of the Russian state budget, the military expert claims Oleg Zhdanov.
Oleksiy Arestovych, who is an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential administration, claims that since 300,000 people are now wanted, then the Russians killed must be between 100,000 and 150,000, “more likely the latter”.
He implies that only 150,000 new troops at the front would be enough for Russia, but she apparently figured that at least that many would be killed anyway, so she insured herself with a “double kit”.
Fifth: how many people would agree to go to war
The Russian army attacked Ukraine in the conditions of a complete information blackout inside Russia and disagreement among Western experts on the question of whether Russia would really attack or just scare.
The new mobilizers will be from the people who have much more information, however much they restrict their access to it. They see the coffins of the soldiers, the disabled in the streets and the reports from the front in their accessible Telegram. They know that no one is waiting for them with joy, but with new Western weaponry. There are testimonies of Russians who escaped from the front, who say that they had no food, clothing, shoes and weapons.
This discouraging knowledge was apparently foreseen by the authorities, after Moscow first amended the Criminal Code for evasion of mobilization and surrender, and only then announced that it was undertaking partial mobilization.
Russian soldiers are doomed to lose this war, most Western analysts believe. The argument is this: they have no motivation to fight, unlike the Ukrainian soldiers, who know very well why they are ready to risk their lives – because it is their land that is now seized.
And above all, sixth: why the Kremlin has been slow until now
In six months of war, experts have asked many times why Russia does not mobilize more people. This question began to be raised as early as the end of March, when Russia withdrew its troops from the northern regions of Ukraine and said it wanted to focus on the “liberation” of the Donbass in the East.
History repeated itself on a much smaller scale in the following months – in order to strengthen one front, Russia did not bring in new troops, but withdrew soldiers from another front. This fact helped the planning of the Ukrainian counter-offensive – Kyiv tricked the Russian units towards the Kherson region, but actually hit the region of Kharkiv, from where the most combat-ready units had left. The rest ran away.
The Kremlin has known for a long time that it needs reinforcements, says the adviser to the Ukrainian presidential administration, Oleksiy Arestovych. According to him, the people were mobilized for no other reason than because it was risky for Putin to give weapons to a population with an unclear attitude to war. This weapon could easily be directed against the Russian authorities instead of Ukraine, Arestovich believes.