Vladimir Putin can call up all the troops he wants, but Russia has no way to get those new troops the training and weapons they need to fight in Ukraine anytime soon.
With his invasion of Ukraine seriously faltering, the Russian president announced the immediate “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens on Wednesday. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Russian television that the country will call up 300,000 reservists.
If they end up facing Ukrainian guns on the front lines, they are likely to become the latest casualties in the invasion that Putin began more than seven months ago and which has seen the Russian military fail in almost every aspect of modern warfare. .
“The Russian military is not currently equipped to rapidly and effectively deploy 300,000 reservists,” said Alex Lord, Europe and Eurasia specialist at the Sibylline strategic analysis firm in London.
“Russia is already struggling to effectively equip its professional forces in Ukraine, following significant losses of equipment during the war,” Lord said.
The recent Ukrainian offensive, in which Kyiv has recaptured thousands of square meters of territory, has taken a significant toll.
The Institute for the Study of War earlier this week said that analysis by Western experts and Ukrainian intelligence found that Russia had lost 50% to 90% of its strength in some units as a result of that offensive, and large quantities of weapons.
And that is on top of terrible equipment losses during the war.
The open source intelligence website Oryx, with only losses confirmed by photographic or video evidence, has found that Russian forces have lost more than 6,300 vehicles, including 1,168 tanks, since the fighting began.
“In practice, they don’t have enough modern equipment … for so many new troops,” said Jakub Janovsky, a military analyst who contributes to the Oryx blog.
JT Crump, CEO of Sibylline and a 20-year veteran of the British Army, said Russia is beginning to suffer from ammunition shortages in some calibers and is seeking sources of key components so it can repair or build replacements for weapons lost on the battlefield.
It’s not just tanks and armored personnel carriers that have been lost.
In many cases, Russian troops do not have the base in Ukraine, including a clear definition of what they are risking their lives for.
Despite Wednesday’s mobilization order, Putin still calls Ukraine a “special military operation,” not a war.
Ukrainian soldiers know that they are fighting for their homeland. Many Russian soldiers have no idea why they are in Ukraine.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis noted this on Wednesday, calling Putin’s partial mobilization announcement “a sign of desperation.”
“I think people definitely don’t want to go to a war that they don’t understand. … People would be put in jail if they call Russia’s war in Ukraine a war, and now they have to suddenly go in and do it unprepared fight, without weapons, without body armor, without helmets,” he said.
But even if they had all the equipment, weapons and motivation they need, it would be impossible to quickly train 300,000 troops for battle, experts said.
“Neither the additional officers nor facilities needed for a mass mobilization exist in Russia now,” said Trent Telenko, a former quality control auditor for the US Defense Contract Management Agency, who has studied Russian logistics.
Reforms in 2008, aimed at modernizing and professionalizing the Russian military, removed many of the logistics and command and control structures that had once enabled the former Soviet Union’s forces to quickly train large numbers of conscripts and to rest.
Lord, at Sibylline, said it would take at least three months to collect, train and deploy Russian reservists.
“At what time will we be in the depths of a Ukrainian winter,” Lord said. “As such, we are likely to see an influx of reservists have a serious impact on the battlefield until spring 2023 – and even then they are likely to be poorly trained and poorly equipped.”
Mark Hertling, a former US Army general and CNN analyst, said he had seen firsthand how poor Russian training could be during visits to the country.
“It was terrible…rudimentary first aid, very few simulations to conserve resources, and…most importantly…horrible leadership,” Hertling wrote on Twitter.
“Putting ‘newbies’ on a front line that is wounded, has low morale and doesn’t want to be (there) spells more (Russian) disasters.
“Jaw-dropping,” Hertling tweeted.
Telenko said newly mobilized troops would likely become just the latest casualties in Putin’s war.
“Russia can raise bodies. It cannot train them quickly, equip them and most importantly lead them.
“Untrained waves of 20 to 50 something men with AK something assault rifles and no radio will fall apart at the first Ukrainian artillery or armored attack,” he said.
Hertling predicts ‘disastrous’ consequences for Putin’s latest move