Russia turns to ‘forced mobilization’ as troop morale declines: report


Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff said in a Facebook post on Thursday that Russia was carrying out “forced mobilization” in the areas it occupies in the Donetsk region.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) discussed the alleged forced mobilization in an assessment of the conflict published Thursday. In its report, the think tank wrote that Russia’s move to force individuals to serve is “highly unlikely to generate significant combat power and will exacerbate low morale and poor discipline among Russian and proxy units.”

Friday marks 100 days since Russia began its military assault on Ukraine. Throughout Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military campaign, there have been reports of low morale among his troops. Food shortages have also been reported, including one this week by Ukraine’s security and intelligence agency. In this case, the agency said it intercepted a text exchange between Russian troops in which one of the servicemen said he had been forced to eat a dog due to a shortage of food. (Newsweek could not independently verify the report.)

The ISW also reported that a military regiment of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) released a video on Thursday in which “forcibly mobilized” soldiers complained to Putin about how they spent the war in front line in the Kherson region without proper food or medicine.

The Ukrainian military says Russia has turned to forced mobilization in a region of Ukraine it currently occupies. Above, residents examine destroyed Russian tanks outside Kyiv on Tuesday.
Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images

According to the ISW, the troops in the video said mobilization committees failed to carry out required medical examinations and that some people were admitted to service despite medical conditions that should have exempted them.

The ISW detailed other reports that indicated low morale among DNR troops. He said Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate released an intercepted phone conversation that allegedly revealed DNR soldiers complaining about “physically unfit individuals” in their ranks. He also reported that DNR soldiers said the units mobilized experienced “mass drunkenness and general disorder”.

Maksym Marchenko, head of Ukraine’s regional military administration in Odessa, said 30-40% of Russian personnel who were transferred out of Ukraine refused to return, according to the ISW. This would have led Russian military leaders to return “unprepared and unmotivated units to combat”.

Although it did not achieve a quick victory in Ukraine, as many analysts had expected, the Russian military has reportedly had more success recently. A shift in strategy has led redeployed Russian forces to make territorial gains in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, which contains separatist-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk. As the battle for Donbass continues, Russia is said to have recently managed to seize the towns of Popasna and Lyman.

Newsweek contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry for comments.

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