Will Russia fully mobilize against Ukraine? Almost seven months have passed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On day 209 of the war, the Ukrainian forces continue to push with their counteroffensives, while Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be debating a mass mobilization.
The Russian Casualties
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 54,810 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 252 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 217 attack and transport helicopters, 2,216 tanks, 1,323 artillery pieces, 4,724 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 318 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,587 vehicles and fuel tanks, 168 anti-aircraft batteries, 925 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 125 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 239 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The rate of Russian casualties has slowed down considerably after days of heavy losses. But the issue for the Russian military remains unresolved. Simply put, Russian commanders don’t have enough men for their frontline units. And those they do have are unmotivated and lack the effective leadership necessary to conduct successful combined arms offensive operations.
As a result, we keep seeing futile Russian ground assaults against Ukrainian positions in the Donbas that accomplish little more than capture a few settlements or farmland at the expense of heavy personnel and materiel losses. Moreover, the Russian sectors that need reinforcements the most continue to lack sufficient reserves to repel any Ukrainian counteroffensives.
There are increasingly more frequent reports about a potential full or partial mobilization in Russia.
Almost seven months into the war, President Vladimir Putin has still to call up the reserves despite the fact that his forces are taking a royal beating in Ukraine.
Indeed, only a few days ago, the Kremlin indicated that there would be no mass mobilization of troops. On September 13, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had stated that there were no plans for a partial or full mobilization of the Russian state even after the humiliating defeat in the east following the Ukrainian counteroffensive around Kharkiv.
But even if Putin decides to call a mobilization, the Russian military isn’t guaranteed to fare any better on the ground in Ukraine. Large volumes of poorly trained and unmotivated troops will hardly make a difference against a battle-hardened force that is defending its own soil. To be sure, more troops would allow Russia to prolong the war and try to get some concessions from the Ukrainians on the negotiating table. And this prospect might be just enough for Putin to order a general mobilization of his country, something he has thus far avoided in order to continue to maintain a façade of normalcy for the Russian people.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.