Before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the “partial mobilization” of troops in the Donbas region of Ukraine, former U.S. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ben Hodges told the Kyiv Independent that Ukraine’s recent success has changed the way people view the war in Ukraine.
Reclaiming thousands of square kilometers in Kharkiv, Ukrainian showed that they could use U.S.-supplied HIMARS and other NATO-standard weapons and equipment supplied by the West effectively. And, according to Hodges, much of the rest of the world now believes that Ukraine is in with a shot of winning the war.
“Now people around the world, in Europe and U.S., starting thinking…wow, Ukraine can win,” he told the independent Ukrainian news outlet.
“Those Ukrainian soldiers are exhausted right now, but they’re not as tired as the Russians.”
While Hodges warned against celebrating a Ukrainian victory early – wise words given Russia’s historically aggressive and escalatory response to the victories – he did say that the war has now reached a point of “irreversible momentum.”
“Beginning of a Big Military Defeat” in Ukraine
Ukrainian political analyst Roman Rukomeda shared a similar view in an op-ed for Euractiv, describing how Ukraine’s counter-offensive was the beginning of a “big Russian military defeat” in the war.
Rukomeda described the Russian military as a “paper bear” that remains dangerous, given that the military does still have weapons and a sizeable number of troops, albeit ones that don’t want to fight. Nonetheless, Rukomeda said that the victory shows Russia can be defeated and that the only way to end the conflict is to beat Russia on the battlefield, return Ukrainian territory to the Ukrainian people, and keep hurting Russia until the Kremlin is finally “ready to hold negotiations on returning to the rules of the international relations with appropriate restitutions.”
The only way that won’t happen is if Russia’s “partial mobilization” of reserve troops proves effective.
Will Russian Troops Be Motivated to Succeed in Ukraine?
While Putin may have found a solution to his lack of troops, finding almost double the 147,000 additional troops he said he needed only a matter of weeks ago, the announcement made on Wednesday morning appears to have spooked many Russians.
Almost all flights from Moscow were fully booked as of Wednesday afternoon, and the prospect of a draft – even though Putin is only taking military reservists so far – could have young, fighting-age men running scared. Putin may have more soldiers on the battlefield, but only time will tell whether those soldiers will be motivated to win, and how many consider the risk of 10 years in prison for desertion worth it to save their own lives.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.
September 22, 2022 at 10:01 am
Not only were all flights out booked, but the line of cars to get out to Finland from Russia was over 35km. Similar line to get into Georgia. The remaining Russian Jews also have Israel as an option, and I hear that many are considering it.
This whole charade from Russia will not solve their problems in logistics, tactics, or morale. And their training program is weak and flimsy compared to EU and US training for Ukraine.
I dont even think Russians are buying the BS math the Kremlin is selling claiming only 6000 dead. In what world do you need 300,000 conscripts for a war where you’ve only lost 6000? Haha. Putin is desperate, and his precious legacy will continue its downward spiral at an ever increasing velocity.
Dr. Scooter Van Neuter
September 22, 2022 at 2:48 pm
I fear the only way out of this mess is for Putin to be taken down internally as he is obviously unwilling to lose face over this ill-advised disaster. While his incessant threats to go nuclear are getting very tiring, Putin is an increasingly desperate man and that makes him a dangerous man.
September 22, 2022 at 4:02 pm
I heard they are giving the reservists 15 days of training and then will send them to the front. Even if they have had prior combat experience, years ago, 15 days is not enough time to be ready for action. Unit cohesion will suffer. Morale will drop even lower. At this point Ukraine could make better use of the billions of dollars we are giving them by offering $2000 to each Russian who deserts.
September 22, 2022 at 5:21 pm
Missed in all the hubbub was the announcement that the Russian state was also requisitioning 300,000 broom handles. Sharpened, these will provide the new troops with something to carry when they go into battle.
I’m sure the Ukrainians are quaking in their boots.