How will Putin’s mobilisation change the war in Ukraine?

Battle-tested and determined to win, Ukrainian soldiers consider the looming arrival of tens of thousands of mobilised Russians a minor threat.

Analysts are a bit more cautious.

On Wednesday in a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilisation of 300,000 men to “protect our motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories” of Ukraine.

But the real figure of those to be mobilised is one million men, Novaya Gazeta Europe, the exiled version of Russia’s oldest independent daily, claimed on Thursday, citing a top-secret decree and a source in Putin’s administration. The Kremlin denied this report.

The partial mobilisation follows Ukraine’s unexpected counteroffensive success in the eastern Kharkiv region that was almost fully liberated from Russian troops earlier this month.

And the Ukrainian forces are ready to counterattack in three more directions, observers say.

One is in the Luhansk region that lies south of Kharkiv, where the counteroffensive will focus along the strategic Siverskyi Donets river.

Fierce battles with heavy losses took place there in the summer after Moscow withdrew its forces from four northern regions and the capital, Kyiv.

The second direction is in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, around the town of Hulyaipole, from where Ukrainians can wedge deep into Russia-occupied areas and bisect them.And the third is the southern region of Kherson, an entrance to the annexed Crimean peninsula that was occupied in early March, possibly due to treason by Ukrainian officials.

If the Ukrainian counteroffensive takes place in the coming days, Russia will not have time to train and deploy the newly-mobilised troops.

Russian forces “will have to use [the mobilised troops] to form a second line of defence about 100km (60 miles) away from the current front line,” Nikolay Mitrokhin, a Russia expert at Germany’s University of Bremen, told Al Jazeera.

The Russians will have to replenish their battalions that have a “huge deficit” of manpower due to heavy, disheartening losses in the past six months, he said.

“If by mid-October Ukrainian forces can break through the front lines in at least two directions and advance for at least 50km (30 miles), they will deal the Russian forces a heavy blow that will upturn the mobilisation,” Mitrokhin said.

As a result, the inevitable loss of armoured vehicles and artillery will heavily impede the revitalisation of Russia’s military might in occupied areas, he said.

Related Articles

Back to top button