How Russia’s Mass Mobilization Will Change the Russia and Ukraine War

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Since February 2014, there has been a conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Out of an original invading force of roughly 190,000 soldiers, the Russian army has suffered significant losses, with an estimated 80,000 casualties (Cancian, 2022). As a result, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, intends to mobilize 300,000 reservists to increase the country’s army strength. This was Russia’s first mobilization since the end of World War II. However, according to Cancian (2022), the number of Russian conscript casualties is growing rapidly, indicating that the mobilization has not been as effective as expected. Furthermore, due to the increased recruitment of a large number of poorly led, inadequately trained, and skilled troops, the Russian mobilization will result in a lengthened war duration and increased casualties.

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Purpose of Mobilization in Russia

The purpose of Russia’s partial mobilization is to disintegrate and counter the threats issued by Ukraine, as well as protect its citizens, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Many Russian officials, legislators, and scientists believe that the world system is growing more unstable and that “hotspots” are developing in many places, including in Russia’s near vicinity. Thus, there is anxiety over the possibility of a more unstable world in the twenty-first century and an “arc of crisis” centered on Russia. Specifically identified dangers include the growing rivalry for resources on a global scale, the worldwide weapons race, and the potential for a US-led campaign to overthrow Russia’s regime (Monaghan, 2016). As a result, it was more critical for Russia to mobilize an army. Moreover, since economic and other challenges were absorbed into the Russia-Ukraine war, mobilization was also necessary because its strategic thinking prioritizes security problems in the Russian state. Furthermore, the mobilization involves putting emergency measures in place to test the Russian power system and prepare it to confront the dangers outlined by the leadership.

Effects of Russia’s Mobilization and the Society’s Perspective

The major implications of the mobilization would include: overwhelming the army’s vulnerable home garrisons, draining the federal treasury, subverting Putin and his regime, and taking a large number of poorly led, undertrained, and poorly equipped soldiers to Ukraine. These inadequately trained soldiers would most likely quickly surrender, desert, or perish. In fact, before deploying fresh recruits to the front, the Russian army no longer trains them to a practical standard. For instance, the Wagner Group, a mercenary company, recently recruited volunteers from Russian prisoners and trained them for just a few days before deploying them as the last unquestionably effective fighting force on the Russian side in Ukraine (Cancian, 2022). So naturally, some of the unskilled ex-offenders immediately gave themselves up to the Ukraine forces.

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Furthermore, the emergence of conflicting mobilization visions is a wasteful use of resources. It hinders the creation of cohesive policies because plans and reforms frequently face opposition from powerful interests prioritized by the country. In essence, the contemporary reality of the Russian mobilization could be considered; a “difficult mobilization.” Despite these limitations, mobilization constitutes a key long-term trend in Russian strategic power building (Cancian, 2022). Nevertheless, even an effective mobilization would be too late for Russia at the moment because it takes months to transform citizens into troops.

Russian society has reacted differently to the mobilization. One situation featured significant anti-mobilization rallies and attempts by potential draftees to avoid combat. Usually, mobilization orders are meant to apply exclusively to combat-experienced reservists, but reports have been published depicting unstandardized conscription. Subsequently, many Russian men, including the ones ineligible for mobilization, are fleeing the country for fear of being recruited (Cancian, 2022). To demonstrate that the population is displeased, immediately after Putin issued the order on the mobilization program, direct flights to locations where Russians can enter visa-free were filled. For instance, tickets from Moscow to Turkey (Istanbul), Armenia, and Yerevan were all sold out. In addition, despite a statute making it illegal to protest against the military, Russians defied the law and gathered in cities from St. Petersburg in the west to Ulan-Ude in the east to oppose the orders (Soylu, 2022). According to the human rights organization OVD-Info, these demonstrators were detained and taken to military commissariats (Khvostova & Kryvosheiev, 2022). This information clearly indicates that most of the population did not support the mobilization.

The highest cost of the war is borne by ethnic Russians, who are among the poorest ethnic minorities. Due to this, the war has become remote for most Russians in the core constituency who do not bear the cost. As a result, those residing in the core constituency greatly support the war as opposed to ethnic minorities (Cancian, 2022). Nonetheless, there is growing unrest related to the disproportionate costs of the war. This has been depicted through agitated scenes from conscripts and their trainers at military recruitment centers.

Conclusion

The Russian mobilization will result in a lengthened war duration and increased casualties due to the recruitment of many poorly led, inadequately trained, and skilled troops. The Russian conscripts receive training for a few days before they are sent to the battlefield. This strategy forms a weak army that could lead to the death of most of the soldiers. Additionally, mass mobilization has hindered the creation of cohesive policies because the state has prioritized security projects that have led to the wastage of resources. Even if Russia wanted to mobilize armies effectively, the Russian army experts could not currently train millions of new soldiers. In addition, they cannot equip them with the necessary supplies or lead them effectively. This mobilization is, therefore, a sign of the regime’s weakness and, rather, not a demonstration of strength since the mobilization has paraded even its vulnerable and untrained civilians for combat to be massacred or captured.

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  1. Cancian M. F. (2022, September 26). What does Russia’s ‘Partial Mobilization’ mean? Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://www.csis.org/analysis/what-does-russias-partial-mobilization-mean
  2. Khvostova, M & Kryvosheiev, D. (2022, October 4). No partial measures: How Ukraine can meet the challenge of Russia’s mobilization. Wider Europe. https://ecfr.eu/article/no-partial-measures-how-ukraine-can-meet-the-challenge-of-russias-mobilisation/
  3. Monaghan, A. (May 2016). Russian state mobilization: Moving the country on to a war footing. [Unpublished research paper]. The Royal Institute of International Affairs Chatham House. https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/publications/research/2016-05-20-russian-state-mobilization-monaghan-2.pdf
  4. Soylu, R. (2022, September 21). Ukraine war: Russians snap up Moscow-Istanbul flights as people flee conscription. Middle East Eye. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/russia-ukraine-war-mobilisation-istanbul-flights-three-days-bought
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