Putin wants to keep fighting. Who will fill the ranks? – Foreign Police

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As Russian forces continue to suffer heavy battlefield casualties in Ukraine, the Kremlin is struggling to close the gap as Russian President Vladimir Putin remains reluctant to call for large-scale military mobilization.

British military intelligence estimates that Russia lost a third of the ground combat forces it had mustered before its invasion, as forces in Moscow were plagued by both their own operational shortcomings and fierce Ukrainian resistance. , supported by sophisticated Western weapons. The US Department of Defense has not seen evidence of a mass Russian mobilization so far, officials said. But as Russia tries to throw more forces into the fight, it sometimes calls in less than full combat groups, including units that suffered casualties in their failed attempt to capture the capital, kyiv.

Instead of a mass mobilization campaign, which is likely to prove unpopular, Russia has cobbled together reinforcements by redeploying troops from the occupied territories of Georgia, bringing in mercenaries from Syria, recruiting civilians from the regions occupied Donbass and forcing the soldiers to stay put. the battlefield by dangling financial incentives to new recruits. Ukrainian officials and lawmakers have also noticed that Russia is taking less experienced troops to more remote areas, such as the easternmost Russian port city of Vladivostok, instead of using elite units that have suffered serious losses at the start of the war. And the Pentagon believes that the paramilitary group Wagner is active in the Donbass region.

As Russian forces continue to suffer heavy battlefield casualties in Ukraine, the Kremlin is struggling to close the gap as Russian President Vladimir Putin remains reluctant to call for large-scale military mobilization.

British military intelligence estimates that Russia lost a third of the ground combat forces it had mustered before its invasion, as forces in Moscow were plagued by both their own operational shortcomings and fierce Ukrainian resistance. , supported by sophisticated Western weapons. The US Department of Defense has not seen evidence of a mass Russian mobilization so far, officials said. But as Russia tries to throw more forces into the fight, it sometimes calls in less than full combat groups, including units that suffered casualties in their failed attempt to capture the capital, kyiv.

Instead of a mass mobilization campaign, which is likely to prove unpopular, Russia has cobbled together reinforcements by redeploying troops from occupied Georgia, bringing in mercenaries from Syria, recruit civilians in the occupied regions of Donbass, and compel soldiers to remain on the battlefield by dangling financial incentives to new recruits. Ukrainian officials and lawmakers have also noticed that Russia is taking less experienced troops to more remote areas, such as the easternmost Russian port city of Vladivostok, instead of using elite units that have suffered serious losses at the start of the war. And the Pentagon believes that the paramilitary group Wagner is active in the Donbass region.

“They really scraped the bottom of every barrel they could find,” said Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats project at the American Enterprise Institute.

A bill posted on the Russian parliament’s website on Friday said Russian lawmakers are set to weigh measures that would remove the upper age limit at which Russians can register for military service. The amendment, presented by the head of the parliament’s defense committee, Andrey Kartapolov, argued that it was necessary to recruit specialists with years of experience under their belt. The current ceiling is 40 years for Russians and 30 years for foreign citizens.

During the first weeks of the Donbass campaign, after Moscow’s disastrous effort to storm kyiv ended in failure, Russia attempted to overwhelm Ukrainian forces with sheer numbers on its flatter terrain. saturating targets with rocket and artillery fire before sending waves of earth. units. But progress is falling far behind Putin’s expectations in the disputed region, and Russian units are being pushed back from Ukrainian border towns like Kharkiv. This leads to another change in Russian tactics. On Wednesday, a senior Pentagon official speaking on the merits under ground rules set by the Defense Ministry said Russia was beginning to reduce the size of its attacks by using smaller units in northern Donbass, probably in response to the high attrition suffered during the war. far.

“The wheels kind of come out of the Russian military,” Kagan said.

On Friday, British defense intelligence assessed that Russian commanders were under increased pressure to achieve their objectives, forcing them to redeploy battle-depleted forces without enough time to rebuild, risking further casualties. British officials believe that in parts of the Donbass, despite Ukrainian forces outnumbering three to one, Russia’s poor integration of artillery and ground units has hampered progress, although Ukrainian officials believe that the Russian fire was effective in inflicting many more casualties than in its failed effort to take kyiv.

“They’re still struggling to get the effect they want, partly because of this challenge of integration, partly because when in doubt, revert to Soviet tactics of heavy bombardment and barrages with artillery. rather imprecise followed by push yourself, turn [down] a road and get hit,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told reporters last week during a visit to Washington. “That’s what happens every day. They’re not really progressing in many areas, … and their solution is just cannon fodder.

Moscow’s increasingly mutilated and ad hoc forces will likely translate into further difficulties on the battlefield. “Even if he announces the mobilization tomorrow, the attack now underway will almost certainly peak in the coming weeks,” Kagan said. “There just isn’t a wave of skilled personnel they can bring in that can really rejuvenate it in a short period of time.”

The top US defense official told reporters on Thursday that Russia had about 106 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) fighting in Ukraine, the same number as earlier this week. “They pushed back some units in Donbass that weren’t 100 percent,” the official said. “We just had indications that all the BTGs they put in were not at the same level of readiness as before the war. Some BTGs were so exhausted that they simply dissolved them and combined them with others. Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, said Russia had also tried to stem unit losses of up to 35% – rates close to those that would render most military units inoperative – by increasing them with unprepared troops.

Western officials believe Russia has already committed nearly two-thirds of its frontline ground combat units to the fight in Ukraine. But the senior US defense official said Russia was still struggling to move large masses of troops due to failures in logistics and support efforts. And some of Russia’s military failures in the conflict, including the sinking of the cruiser Moscow in April and the failure to take Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, prompted Putin to suspend two top commanders.

There are also rumblings of discontent in Russia. Russian military recruiting offices across the country have been target with Molotov cocktails, likely to protest Russia’s devious efforts to mobilize troops, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War reported Thursday. Russian military bloggers, usually patriotic, have also come to question Moscow’s execution of the war, according to the institute noted last weekafter nearly 500 soldiers and 80 pieces of military equipment were lost in a disastrous attempt to cross the Silverskyi Donets River.

“Molotov cocktails are a canary in the coal mine,” Kagan said. “Military bloggers are a very noisy canary in the coal mine. And this may become a problem for the stability of Putin’s regime.


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