Russia can call in all the troops it wants, but it cannot train or support them

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Vladimir Putin can call in all the troops he wants to, but Russia has no way of getting the new troops the training and weapons they need to fight in Ukraine anytime soon.

With his invasion of Ukraine faltering badly, the Russian president announced on Wednesday 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 line, they are likely to become the latest casualties of the invasion that Putin launched more than seven months ago and has seen the Russian military fail in almost every aspect of modern warfare.

“The Russian military is not currently equipped to quickly and effectively deploy 300,000 reservists,” said Alex Lord, Europe and Eurasia specialist at strategic think tank Sibylline in London.

“Russia is already struggling to effectively equip its professional forces in Ukraine after significant losses of equipment during the war,” Lord said.

The latest Ukrainian offensive, which has seen Kiev reclaim thousands of square meters of the territory, has taken a significant toll.

The Institute for the Study of War said earlier this week that analysis by Western experts and Ukrainian intelligence found that Russia had lost 50% to 90% of its strength in some units due to the offensive and huge amounts of armor.

And that comes on top of staggering equipment losses during the war.

The open source intelligence website Oryx, which only uses losses confirmed by photographic or video evidence, has found that 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 so many new troops,” said Jakub Janovsky, a military analyst who contributes to the Oryx blog.

JT Crump, chief executive of Sibylline and a veteran of 20 years in the British military, said Russia has begun to suffer ammunition shortages in some calibers and is looking for sources of key components so it can repair or build replacements for weapons lost on the battlefield .

It is not just tanks and armored personnel carriers that have been lost.

In many cases, Russian troops have not had the basics in Ukraine, including a clear definition of what they are risking their lives for.

Despite Wednesday’s mobilization order, Putin still calls Ukraine a “special military operation,” not a war.

Ukrainian soldiers know they are fighting for their homeland. Many Russian soldiers have no idea why they are in Ukraine.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis noted this Wednesday, calling Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization “a sign of desperation.”

A billboard promoting military service in Saint Petersburg on September 20 includes the slogan,

“I think that people absolutely do not want to go into a war that they do not understand. … People would be taken to jail if they were to call Russia’s war in Ukraine a war, and now suddenly they have to go in and fight unprepared, without weapons, without armor, without helmets,” he said.

But even if they had all the equipment, weapons and motivation they need, it would be impossible to get 300,000 troops quickly trained for combat, experts said.

“Neither the additional officers nor the facilities needed for a mass mobilization now exist in Russia,” said Trent Telenko, a former quality control auditor for the US Defense Contract Management Agency who has studied Russian logistics.

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 large numbers of mobilized conscripts.

Lord, at Sibylline, said it would take at least three months to collect, train and deploy Russian reservists.

“At what point will we be in the depths of a Ukrainian winter,” Lord said. “As such, we are unlikely to see an influx of reservists have a serious impact on the battlefield until the spring of 2023 – and even then they are likely to be poorly trained and poorly equipped.”

Mark Hertling, a former US Army general and CNN analyst, said he had seen firsthand how poor Russian training could be during visits to the country.

“It was terrible … rudimentary first aid, very few simulations to save resources, and … most importantly … terrible leadership,” Hertling wrote on Twitter.

“Putting ‘rookies’ on a front line that has been destroyed, has low morale and doesn’t want to be (there) portends more (Russian) disaster.

“Jaw-dropping,” Hertling tweeted.

Telenko said newly mobilized troops were likely to be just the latest casualties of Putin’s war.

“Russia can prepare bodies. It cannot quickly train, equip and most importantly lead them.

“Untrained waves of 20 to 50 something men with AK some assault rifle and no radios will fall apart at the first Ukrainian artillery or armored attack,” he said.

Hertling predicts ‘catastrophic’ consequences for Putin’s latest move

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