Putin has never dared a mobilization before. That was not for nothing’

Putin has never dared a mobilization before. That was not for nothing’
Putin has never dared a mobilization before. That was not for nothing’

Russia experts speak of a desperate act after President Putin announced a partial mobilization. “But that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.”

Judith Harmsen and Jan Philip UitenbroekSeptember 22, 202211:28

It is a step that Russian President Vladimir Putin jealously avoided during the first months of the war with Ukraine: mobilization. Nevertheless, Russian civilians will now also be sent to the front. In a speech on Wednesday morning, Vladimir Putin announced that he would proceed with a “partial mobilization.”

For the time being, mainly civilians with experience on the battlefield will be called up, says Clingendael researcher Dick Zandee. “It concerns ex-conscripts and former contract soldiers, i.e. people who have received military training in the past and have subsequently returned to social life. They now have to return to the barracks for additional training.”

It provides Russia with fresh troops. Although it is questionable whether that will be enough to turn the tide for the Russians – who suffer large losses. After all: the Russian army is currently also losing out in equipment.

“The quality of Ukrainian equipment is currently very high,” says Laura Starink, former correspondent of NRC and co-founder of the news platform Window on Russia. “In addition, a lot of material belonging to the Russians has been lost. If only because many troops have fled. They can hardly make up for those material losses at the moment, partly due to the sanctions.”

Attack on the Russian Federation

Add to that a highly motivated Ukrainian army and it is clear that even with extra manpower the Russian army can have a hard time. Much depends on the referendums to be held in the occupied areas of the Donbas later this week, Zandee thinks.

“We can expect a manipulated result, so there will be an official vote to join Russia,” he says. “If that is ratified by the parliament in Moscow, we will have a new situation. Then those areas will be part of the Russian Federation and Ukrainian attacks in the Donbas can be seen as an attack on the Russian Federation.”

Putin indicated in his speech that he was even prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory. Yet Zandee does not expect that he will actually do so in an attack on the Donbas. “It cannot be ruled out completely, but Chinese President Xi has already raised a warning finger towards Putin during his meeting with Putin in Uzbekistan. India has also issued warnings.”

Starink is more impressed by the threats. “He has never said it so clearly before,” she emphasizes. “Russian state television often threatens with nuclear weapons, but Putin has never done that himself. He also added: this is not a bluff. He underlined that.”

Desperate act of a cornered cat

According to her, there is therefore certainly an escalation. Starink: “Of course we don’t know whether he will do what he threatens to do. He has done that in the past. Many people also thought that the invasion would not take place, but it did. This is a desperate act of a cornered cat, but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.”

The mobilization will also influence the way in which ‘ordinary Russians’ view the war, Starink suspects. “Putin has never dared a mobilization before. That was not for nothing, of course he knows that it is a very unpopular measure.”

Starink expects that some Russians will certainly try to withdraw from the war. According to her, it will become ‘a logistical nightmare’ to prepare people and send them to the front in a short time. “I don’t see a popular uprising happening in Russia anytime soon, but it certainly won’t increase the popularity of the war.”

The fact that Putin is now taking the decision to mobilize shows, according to Starink, how few options he has left. “He’s scaling up and that’s pretty creepy. Because if you threaten, you must do something. We don’t know how this will continue.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Putin dared mobilization

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