Vladimir Putin’s conscripts won’t win his war but may drag it out

President of Russia Vladimir PutinMove to draft 300,000 reserve troops to strengthen his army in Ukraine more likely to prolong the war than affect its outcome.
However, it could give him time to work on a broader strategy – including exacerbating Europe’s energy crisis and threatening nuclear strikes on unspecified targets – aimed at undermining foreign military and financial support for Kyiv’s war effort.
Everything about Putin’s decision to order partial mobilization is beset by questions, including the feasibility of the number. Other unknowns include the speed, quality, and goals of a high-volume workout that’s about to begin.
Military analysts from Washington to Moscow say the phased recruitment program suggests that the phased recruitment program will demonstrate more of its ability to rebuild and rotate exhausted combat troops. rather than providing a new force capable of pushing Ukraine back on the defensive, say military analysts from Washington to Moscow.
According to estimates by Kyiv’s allies, Russia has not only lost about 80,000 dead or wounded soldiers in Ukraine, but due to insufficient manpower to rotate, many are now spending their eighth month on the battlefield.
“I’m not sure if this will lead to escalation, but it does buy time for Ukraine,” said Igor Levchenko, head of strategic modeling at New Geopolitics, a Kyiv-based consultancy. win. And that can be very important.
One of Russia’s few strategic successes has been to slow down the supply of weapons from the US and other allies to Ukraine by threatening to escalate, with the delivery of each weapon system – from Javelin anti-tank missiles to the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system – delayed because Levchenko feared the delivery could provoke a Russian response.
Armed with long-range ATACMS missiles that the United States has limited supply, along with Abrams planes and tanks, Ukraine can recover lost territory in a matter of weeks, according to Levchenko. Those weapons are being kept, he said, “a direct result of the strategic thinking of Russian politicians and the military”, adding that Putin’s recent nuclear threat threatens to drag long hesitation in Washington. “It’s a very bad story for Ukraine.”
The United States continues to focus on open and transparent negotiations with Ukraine and other allies about Ukraine’s needs, including more medium and long-term weapons requirements, according to the report. Pentagon Brigadier General’s spokesman Patrick Ryder. “I don’t see those conversations being affected by this situation,” he said, referring to recent Russian steps including fake votes that began Friday on territory it holds. in Ukraine after the merger.
He added, “The US will consider “many possibilities in the coming days”, to answer the question of whether the US can send Abrams tanks.
For now, there is no change of position among Ukraine’s allies or their support for Kyiv’s counter-offensive, according to a European official, who requested anonymity, although they said it was. may change.
Military analysts and officials outside Ukraine also expressed skepticism about Russia’s ability to partially mobilize to shift the trajectory of war on the ground.
Russian military planners will be faced with the dilemma of bringing very low-quality forces raised from the draft or spending time training higher-quality forces, Western officials say said in a press conference. They also predict the new units will be poorly equipped.
“300,000 additional troops are not enough for Russia to make advances in Ukraine,” said Pavel Zolotarev, a retired Russian general, now an analyst at the Institute of American and Canadian Studies in Moscow. “This is just enough to deter the Ukrainian attack and consolidate control over the territories that Russian forces currently control.”
The Institute for the Study of War, an American research organization that tracks the conflict in daily reports, concluded in its latest assessments of Ukraine throughout the winter.
Ukraine’s offensive continues to make progress, but has slowed since a successful escape earlier this month in the northeastern region of Kharkiv.
Mark Hertling, former Commander-in-Chief of the US Army in Europe, pointed to Russia’s limited capabilities and serious weaknesses in basic training methods that he had seen during visits to the Russian military.
“This is horrible,” Hertling wrote in a Twitter thread. “Familiarity versus proficiency in rifles, rudimentary first aid, very little simulation to conserve resources, and… most importantly… ‘drill sergeant’ terrible leadership. .”
Michael Kofman, a Russian military expert at the Washington-based security think tank CNA, said in a podcast the 300,000 target could be “just an idea”. Russian commanders will mostly make bad choices when deciding what to do with new managers, he said.
According to Kofman, one of these will be to supplement Russia’s existing Combat Tactical Groups in Ukraine, many of which are staffed at 40%-50% of expected strength. But most Russian training takes place in units, taking away the scarce and exhausted officers to do the job.
Another route would be to build large, lightly armed mechanized units to simply hold the line in defensive positions. A third will be creating capable units that can rotate exhausted troops along the front, but that will require considerable time and investment to get them to the required level.
“The implication of this is that Russia can try to prevent the situation from worsening in their military and try to deal with the numerical aspect of the force,” he said. “But they can’t fix the quality because they’ve used up their best equipment, their best officers, their best weapons and morale will be a permanent problem.”

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