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Russia can call up all the troops it wants, but it can’t train or support them

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 faced with Ukrainian weapons on the front lines, they will likely be the latest casualties in the invasion that Putin began more than seven months ago, which has left the Russian military failing in almost every aspect of the modern war.

“The Russian military is not currently equipped to deploy 300,000 reservists quickly and effectively,” said Alex Lord, a Europe and Eurasia specialist at the Sibylline Bureau of Strategic Analysis in London.

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

The recent Ukrainian offensive, in which Kiev recapture 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 agencies showed that Russia had lost 50% to 90% of its strength in some units as a result of that offensive and massive amounts of armor.

And that’s on top of the staggering losses of equipment over the course of 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 contributing to the Oryx blog.

JT Crump, CEO of Sibylline and a 20-year veteran of the British Army, said Russia is beginning to suffer from ammunition shortages in some calibers and is seeking sources of key components so it can repair or replace weapons for weapons that are lost. gone on the battlefield.

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It’s not just tanks and armored cars that have been lost.

In many cases, Russian troops have not had a base 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 on Wednesday, calling the announcement of Putin’s partial mobilization “a sign of desperation”.

A billboard promoting military service in St. Petersburg on September 20 carries the slogan: "Serving Russia is a real job."

“I think people definitely don’t want to go to a war they don’t understand. … People would be put in jail if they called the Russian war in Ukraine a war, and now they suddenly have to go in and fight it unprepared , without weapons, without body armor, without helmets,” he said.

But even if they had all the equipment, weapons and motivation they need, it would be impossible to quickly train 300,000 troops 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 armed forces of the old Soviet Union to rapidly train and expel large numbers of mobilized conscripts. to rest.

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

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

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

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

Placing ‘newbies’ on a frontline that is torn, has low morale and doesn’t want to be (there) portends more (Russian) disasters.

“Amazing,” Hertling tweeted.

Telenko said newly mobilized troops would likely be just the last casualties in Putin’s war.

“Russia can draft bodies. It cannot train them quickly, equip them and above all lead them.

“Untrained waves of 20 to 50 men with AK assault rifles and no radios will disintegrate in the first Ukrainian artillery or armored attack,” he said.

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