Vladimir Putin has a powerful weapon up his sleeve. If the pressure becomes too great, the Russian president can declare all-out war and increase the number of soldiers tenfold.
It’s been a horrific scenario since the war began in February: Russian mobilization would give the Russians a massive numerical advantage.
Putin chose to call Ukraine’s war of aggression a “special operation”, and sent an invasion force though appalling brutalityin its attempt to seize the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
Russia would likely have the option of declaring all-out war, and could then muster an army much larger than the estimated 100,000-150,000 soldiers fighting in Ukraine.
Failed in Kharkiv
After the Russian forces Paid to fly in Kharkiv in the Northand became drained over a long period of time in Kherson in the southThere are also reports of attacks against the most important targets of the Russian war: Luhansk and Donetsk.
The humiliating withdrawal from Kharkiv led to Putin’s regime faces criticism on state television in a whole new way.
It is questioned whether Russia will be able to win the war, whether the whole process is based on a false premise, and it is shown that in order to gain the support of the Russian population, victory on the battlefield is required.
There are also a number of pro-Kremlin promoters who are asking Putin to use much harsher means in the war.
The map below shows the most important front lines at the moment:
There is no right to lose
Russian politician Gennady Zyuganov stated this week that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a real war, not a “special operation,” The Insider reportsan independent news website that receives support from the European Commission.
How is a special military operation different from war? You can stop the military operation at any time. The leader of the Russian Communist Party said that the war cannot be stopped, it ends either in victory or defeat.
Then he called for full mobilization:
I lead you to the idea that there is a war going on and we have no right to lose it. Don’t panic now. We need a complete mobilization of the country, Zyuganov said.
But despite mounting pressure, full mobilization is still unlikely, as explained by experts VG spoke with.
The Russian General Staff has been calling for mobilization for a long time, but Putin has always described the invasion as a limited special operation. A declaration of all-out war would lead to a strong problem of interpretation and criticism of evolution, says Tom Rosth, director of the intelligence division at the Norwegian Defense Staff School.
The expert on Russian and Russian war affairs says that the army could, in theory, call up everyone who had the first service in the past five or six years, and therefore wouldn’t need much training.
– If you summon everyone between 19-27, you will quickly get up to 1 million soldiers. This will mean a sharp increase in manpower, but there will be soldiers with less combat ability who need new training.
Red Line: Crimea
Røseth believes there is one thing that could force a full mobilization: if Russia feels threatened in Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.
Crimea is very important militarily, with the naval base giving Russia control in the Black Sea.
Tor Bukkvoll of the Norwegian Institute for Defense Research has published a number of studies on Russian and Ukrainian defense and security policy. It reacts to the latest developments as follows:
– It was a very bad weekend for Vladimir Putin. He says that what happened recently came as a shock to many Russians.
– This withdrawal is such a major event that it is difficult to come up with explanations, Bokvall explains.
If Putin notes that he has not succeeded, he has three radical options. The first is full national mobilization.
– Full mobilization is politically risky, because then Putin will have to force the people to war. It is also questionable whether the Russian filling device will be able to cope with it. The military might not have been organized enough to handle such a large influx of new forces. It can become a complete chaos, which in turn can lead to even greater internal frustration.
Another radical alternative is the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
There are no indications that Putin is thinking this way now. There will be a very massive escalation of the war, which could lead to the deaths of large numbers of Ukrainian civilians.
Lower your goals
Bukkvoll is looking for a third alternative, perhaps more realistic:
There is a gradual decline in war objectives, which means they can better focus their resources, he says.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was asked on Monday whether the mobilization was important.
– This is a question for the Ministry of Defense, Peskov answered, according to Izvestia.
Senator Andrei Klimov in the upper house of the Federation Council believes that there is no need for mobilization.
– I do not see the need for that, nor for the introduction of martial law, according to what he said Izvestia.
The graphic shows the change in the balance of power in the Kharkiv region during the past week:
note: In the Russian parliament, there is now a suggestion that parents with three or more children should be able to be part of the mobilization reserve. They are not now, report Interfax.
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