KYIV, Ukraine — This summer, as the Russian military was still grinding out bloody victories in eastern Ukraine, the relentless thunder of its artillery on the battlefield underscored the vast arsenal that Moscow’s military can defeat on its way forward.
But Russia struggled with another key resource: soldiers. As its casualties mounted in Ukraine, military analysts said, Moscow had what they called “Secret mobilizationAimed at creating “volunteer battalions”. State television broadcast phone numbers to invite those interested in joining the “special operation” in Ukraine. Requests forContract soldiers” were widespread.
This month, a video surfaced Prisoners are recruited to fight as mercenaries In Ukraine, a clear example of Russia’s desperation to fill depleted ranks.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir V. Even with Putin’s announcement of “partial mobilization,” Western military analysts and current and former U.S. military officials say it could take weeks, if not months, for Russia to mobilize and train. And equip additional troops ready for battle.
Michael Goffman, director of Russia studies at CNA, a defense research firm in Arlington, said the Kremlin’s first step is to fill badly depleted units in the field with reserve officers and others with recent military experience. The Russian military has been identifying such personnel for months in anticipation of Mr. Putin’s order, he said.
“Bottom line, it’s not going to change a lot of the problems the Russian military has had in this war, and the military will be limited in how many additional troops it can put in the field,” Mr. Goffman said. “But it begins to address the structural problems with manpower shortages in Russia.”
Mainly, Mr. According to Goffman, Mr. Putin’s announcement indefinitely extends the service contracts of thousands of soldiers who signed up to serve only months, and enacts policies barring them from being sent to Ukraine or leaving the service.
The Minister of Defense of Russia, Sergei K. Shoigu, in a speech on Wednesday, confirmed that 5,937 Russian soldiers had been killed in the fighting in Ukraine, giving the latest official tally since March. Western officials put Russian casualties far higher, estimating that more than 80,000 Russian troops were killed or wounded.
Even if Moscow manages to mobilize reserves, the Russian military faces severe shortages of equipment, vehicles and weapons, and the creation of new units to replace those lost in the war will not happen until early next year, some officials said.
“It took months before they were properly equipped, trained, organized, and sent to Ukraine,” Frederick B. Hodges, the former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe. “Without massive artillery support, these new soldiers will be pure cannon fodder, sitting in cold, wet trenches this winter as Ukrainian forces continue to press.”
Its struggles to mobilize enough regular troops have forced the Kremlin to rely on a patchwork of impoverished men. ethnic minorities, Ukrainians from separatist territories, mercenaries and paramilitary National Guard units to fight the war.
In parts of eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions occupied by Russia since 2014, conscription is mandatory for men between the ages of 18 and 65. Many of the leading fighters were local men. Experts say the Kremlin is interested in their casualties because they are Ukrainian citizens.
Yuriy Sobolevsky, an exiled member of the regional council in one of the occupied territories, Kherson A referendum is planned thereHe warned on Wednesday that men of mandatory age who obtained Russian passports or gave their personal information to occupation forces were at risk of conscription.
“The best way to avoid forced mobilization is to go to Ukrainian-controlled territory,” he said. “If this is not possible, people should change residence known to occupying authorities and try to avoid crossing checkpoints and patrols.”
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