Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine
Vladimir Putin can call up all the troops he wants, but Russia has no way of getting those new troops the training and weapons they need to fight in Ukraine any time soon.
With his invasion of Ukraine faltering badly, the Russian President on Wednesday announced the immediate “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens. 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 newest casualties in the invasion Putin started more than seven months ago and that has seen the Russian military fail at almost every aspect of modern war.
“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 equipment losses during the war,” Lord said.
The recent Ukrainian offensive, which has seen Kyiv recapture thousands of square meters of territory, has taken a significant toll.
The Institute for the Study of War earlier this week said analysis from Western experts and Ukrainian intelligence found Russia had lost 50% to 90% of its strength in some units due to that offensive, and vast amounts of armor.
And that comes on top of staggering equipment losses over the course of the war.
The open source intelligence website Oryx, using only losses confirmed by photographic or video evidence, has found 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 that many new troops,” said Jakub Janovsky, a military analyst who contributes to the Oryx blog.
But even if they did have all the equipment, weapons and motivation they need, getting 300,000 troops quickly trained for battle would be impossible, experts said.
Reforms in 2008, aimed at modernizing and professionalizing the Russian military, removed many of the logistical and command and control structures that had once enabled the forces of the old Soviet Union to rapidly train and equip vast numbers of mobilized conscripts.