Putin troop mobilization will come with high costs: think tank
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to call up thousands of Russians in a partial troop mobilization will have high social and political costs for the country and its leader, according to a new think tank report.
An assessment of Russia’s offensive published Sunday by the Institute for the Study of War is pessimistic about the success potential for Putin’s recent actions, which come in response to Ukraine’s intensified counteroffensive.
Putin “is unlikely to overcome fundamental structural challenges in attempting to mobilize large numbers of Russians to continue his war in Ukraine,” the reports says, noting “basic flaws” with Russian military personnel and equipment systems.
“The ‘partial mobilization’ he ordered on September 21 will generate additional forces but inefficiently and with high domestic social and political costs. … His actions thus far suggest that he is far more concerned with rushing bodies to the battlefield than with addressing these fundamental flaws.”
The reserve forces from which Putin will have to pull have not been readied for a large-scale battles and are unlikely to significantly augment Russia’s combat power.
Prior to 2008, a required two-year service obligation allowed the country to provide all military-age men with combat training in case they’d later be called from the reserve, but cost-cutting moves — including reducing the service obligation — means Russia’s reserves aren’t prepared to enter active duty immediately, the report asserts.
What’s more, Putin has already reached into the reserves throughout the war, “likely draining the pool of available combat-ready (and willing) reservists,” according to the assessment.
Protests have erupted throughout the country as Russians demonstrate against the summons, and hundreds have reportedly been detained in the process. Thousands more have reportedly fled the country to avoid the order.
“Protests and resistance to involuntary mobilization also reflect Putin’s repeated and surprising failures to prepare his population for a major war. Russian senior officials and Kremlin mouthpieces were ridiculing the idea that Russia would invade Ukraine right up to the start of the invasion itself,” the think tank argues.
“Russia will mobilize reservists for this conflict. The process will be ugly, the quality of the reservists poor, and their motivation to fight likely even worse. … Putin is likely coming up against the hard limits of Russia’s ability to fight a large-scale war.”