Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization in his country. So the army can call up about 300,000 reserve soldiers to fight in Ukraine. But why would Putin do that? And could this turn the odds on the battlefield? Russia expert Caroline van Nonen (VTM Nieuws) answers.
Read all the developments about the war in Ukraine in our file.
Why is Putin doing this?
Caroline van Nonen: “You can clearly see that Putin is desperate. Russian forces are not doing well on the ground at all. Putin is already trapped. He has to do something to get him out. Yesterday we had already announced the referendums (In four regions of Ukraine, which wish to join Russia in this way, editor.). Today there is the mobilization that comes because the Russians are currently no match for the Ukrainian forces. This is the first time this has happened in Russia since World War II. You will immediately notice that it is a very difficult balancing act for Putin. On the one hand, he needs men, but on the other hand he absolutely wants to prevent the Russian people from turning against him. This is the reason why he chose partial filling rather than full filling. Sending all Russian men to the front would mean his end.”
Who are the reservists who are being called up now?
Caroline van Nonen: “So far, it was mainly about young people from poor regions, who often fight for money in Ukraine. Purely theoretically, according to Russian law, reservists are people from 18 to 60 years old. This is a big group. Now the Russian Ministry of Defense has narrowed it down somewhat: These are men who have served in the Russian army before and have combat experience or certain military skills. Students are not called up. They are exempt. But you notice that there is a lot of uncertainty among Russians About who exactly will be sent to Ukraine. This uncertainty weighs on us. “
How will mobilization continue in Russia?
Former Colonel Roger Housen: “Men between the ages of 20 and 25 will be called up. These are people who have served in the military recently, and therefore still have enough military experience to deploy in the relatively short term. These people are now working elsewhere, as bakers. Or mechanics or civil servants, for example. They will have to be released from work and then go to a training camp for a month to be ready for deployment again.”
How true is it that Putin will actually use nuclear weapons?
Former Colonel Roger Hosen: “I think the danger is still very small at the moment. There are still many rungs on the escalation ladder that Putin can climb. For example, the Russians can continue the economic war against Ukraine by bombing the economic infrastructure. They can also intensify their attacks electronic. So there are still a lot of possibilities.”
Will this change the odds on the battlefield?
Caroline van Nonen: “300,000 soldiers is a lot, especially when you consider that so far only 200,000-250,000 Russian soldiers have been sent to the front. However, that won’t change much in the short term. These reservists still need some training to be able to Combat. In addition, in recent months we have seen a weak organization in the field. You can send additional troops, but you also have to adapt your entire organization to make it work. The additional problem is the motivation of reservists. So far, mainly people have been sent to Ukraine who chose to do so One way or another, for example because of money. These reservists are forced.”
Why don’t the Russians revolt? Do they support war?
Caroline van Nonen: “There is a protest too Today we saw it After Putin’s announcement. People took to the streets in dozens of cities in Russia. But you also immediately see the police arresting people. So there is also repression. This explains why it is not about mass actions. Thousands of Russians have been imprisoned in recent months for demonstrating against the invasion.”
On the other hand, we must not forget that a significant part of the population is behind Putin. How is that? Partly because they watch state TV and there they are told day in and day out that it is all in Russia’s interest, that the West is the devil and that Russia needs protection. If you hear it every day, you will eventually believe it. Moreover, for many Russians, the war has not yet approached. Many big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg haven’t really felt that way yet. That could change now with partial mobilization.”
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