It was a very turbulent day in Russia, where the first reservists received their call-up today. These are people who, in addition to their job or study, are committed to the army part-time. Many of them do not want to go to the front at all, says Russia correspondent Eva Hartog.
“The first reaction of the group concerned is not very enthusiastic,” says Hartog. “In my circle of acquaintances, the reaction is exclusively negative and ways are being sought to circumvent the measure.”
All sorts of images are circulating on social media that are difficult to independently verify. For example, Russians would resist their call. In
a man shouts at 11 seconds that he is not going to fight.
Мобилизация в Дагестане не очень гладко идёт:— Руслан Ахалчи (@akhalchi) September 22, 2022
— Мой дед воевал за Родину!
— В 1941-1945 году мы воевали, это была война. А сейчас это не война, это политика. pic.twitter.com/gANnYtd5gp
A journalist from The Guardian shares the images below on Twitter. It would be an emotional farewell moment, today, between reservists and family:
In total, Russia has about two million reservists, of which 300,000 are now being called up. But the lack of motivation is a problem, expects defense expert Patrick Bolder of the Center for Strategic Studies in The Hague. “At least they won’t win the war with it.”
Especially because it will take some time before the reservists can be deployed at the front. They may have had military training at some point, but not combat training like the professional soldiers who have been active in Ukraine for months for Russia.
‘Need a few months’
“They know how to march and maybe how to fire a weapon,” Bolder says. “But you have to unite them, make them work together. That’s complex. If you want to do it right and not send them as a meat grinder, you need a few months.”
The question is whether Russia will allow them that time. The Russians have not been doing well in the war lately, and the current strategy seems to be mainly aimed at consolidating what they now have in their hands. “It may of course be that they receive a short training to take over the defense tasks of Russians who have been there for a long time,” says Bolder.
That would involve manning trenches or operating artillery fire, but the reservists will not carry out complex assault operations. That way Russia can rotate the troops and give the soldiers who are standing there some rest. “That way you help them through the winter, and then they can go full again afterwards.”
Opportunities for Ukraine
Bolder does see opportunities for Ukraine. “If they’re smart, they wait for those reservists to get there and then attack.”
Another problem Russia has is that it is running out of equipment. Much has already been lost, and in some areas recaptured by Ukraine, the Russians have left so hasty that they have left their tanks behind.
If the new manpower is sent to the front, they may well have to work with old equipment. While Ukraine has received a lot of modern weapons from the West. “If that happens, they are no match,” Bolder fears. “Then they really become cannon fodder. That is very painful to see.”
Kremlin denies panic
It could be a possible explanation for the panic among many Russians, which is denied by the Kremlin. Mass protests broke out yesterday after President Putin’s announcement. More than 1,300 protesters have been arrested.
There were also reports yesterday of people trying to flee the country. Direct flights to Turkey and Armenia, two countries for which Russians do not require a visa, sold out. Today, the Finnish Border Guard added that the number of Russians wanting to cross the border into Finland has “clearly increased”.
But that also entails risks. The Russian parliament yesterday immediately passed a law that would allow Russians who “disobey an order during martial law” to face prison terms of two to three years.