Russia’s war mobilization is useless as long as its army runs out of trucks

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Russian authorities have begun rounding up the first of 300,000 recruits the Kremlin hopes will make up for the heavy losses – 80,000 dead and wounded or more – that the Russian military has suffered in the first seven months of its war over wide in Ukraine.

On paper, 300,000 new recruits is… a plot new recruits. The Russian army entered the war in Ukraine with only 900,000 active troops on its rosters, after all. But the current mobilization, even if it is going well – and we understand it, it will not be– certainly can’t produce much in terms of offensive combat power.

Leaving aside the terrible quality of these conscripts – they are older and less fit than any army would like – as well as the dearth of experienced officers and sergeants to lead them and modern weapons to arm them , there is the problem of trucks.

Months ago, the Russian military ran out of reliable supply trucks. For lack of trucks, the army is attached to its railheads.

The best the Kremlin can hope for, as far as mobilization results are concerned, is to reinforce the existing battalions with large numbers of undertrained and poorly armed conscripts who strength to be able to sit in a trench not far from a railway depot and fire inaccurately at any Ukrainian forces that attack them, but have no capability to carry out their own attacks. Attacks that the battered logistics brigades of the Russian army simply could not withstand.

The Russian army had too few trucks even before the war. Only 11 logistics brigades, each with around 400 trucks, supported the entire frontline force. Not all of these brigades were fully staffed. Not all of their trucks were in working order. The brigades also relied heavily on help from poorly motivated civilian contractors.

The fragility of the army’s trucking infrastructure makes sense when you consider the Kremlin’s traditional reliance on railroads for military logistics. It is customary in the Russian army for almost all supplies to be transported in trains. The main job of the logistics brigades is to get supplies from railway depots and transport them by road to the front line forces.

Train-based logistics, in turn, makes sense if we consider what the Russian military has traditionally Is. First, it defends Russia, a mission that does not require combat forces to travel very far from Russian infrastructure.

Second, it executes Moscow’s foreign policy along the country’s borders. Put simply, it helps the Russian government intimidate former Soviet countries – Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, the Baltic States, Ukraine. Small wars against weak countries along the Russian border also do not require Russian forces to travel far from their country’s railheads.

The shortage of trucks is not a problem for the Russian army as long as it does not try to advance deep into enemy territory. Which, of course, is exactly what the military tried to do when it launched a multi-pronged attack on Ukraine from late February. The assault on Kyiv in particular rolled Russian brigades a hundred kilometers or more from the main railhead at Gomel, Belarus.

Every Russian brigade around Kyiv – and there were several –needed a daily visit of nearly 300 trucks traveling along the roads between Gomel and the front. Ukrainian infantry, artillery and drones made quick work of these convoys, destroying hundreds of trucks and potentially killing thousands of support troops.

So sure the Kyiv assault failed after only a month. He ran out of supplies because he ran out of trucks.

Russian truck losses continued to mount as the war dragged on. Independent analysts have confirmed nearly 1,700 trucks destroyed or captured out of a pre-war inventory of about 4,400.

Yes, the Kremlin replaced some of those casualties with a mix of civilian trucks and very old military models that he took out of long-term storage. But it is undeniable that the Russian army no longer has the same logistical capacity for a sustained offensive over great distances – not that this capacity was so important to begin with.

After the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive around Kharkiv and the Russian withdrawal from the northeast, there remain two main lines of communication for the Russian force in Ukraine: from Rostov-on-Don to the west in the region from Donbass in eastern Ukraine and occupied Crimea in the north to occupied and occupied Kherson. Melitopol. Both are mostly on rails.

As the Russian military mobilizes its new legion of disgruntled conscripts, it should be able to move replacement troops and their obsolete equipment south and east, where badly depleted battalions and brigades can absorb them.

But these battalions and brigades are already linked to their line heads for lack of trucks. They are increasingly a defensive force. An influx of reluctant conscripts won’t change that.

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