February 8, 2023

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Putin may be ready to announce a second mobilization campaign

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses as he delivers his New Year’s address to the nation at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don on December 31, 2022.

Mikhail Klimentiev | Afp | Getty Images

Analysts believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be ready to announce another round of mobilization, as Russia looks to bolster its armed forces in Ukraine.

“Putin may announce a second wave of mobilization to expand his military in the coming days — perhaps as early as January 18,” analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said Tuesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced Tuesday that Putin will deliver a speech in his hometown of Saint Petersburg on Wednesday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Soviet forces breaking the Nazi blockade of Leningrad. Observers pointed out that this may be an appropriate date for announcing such mobilization.

“Putin is fond of using symbolic dates to address the Russian people, and some pro-war Russian bloggers have indicated that he will take this opportunity to either declare mobilization or war with Ukraine,” He said in their daily analysis of the Ukraine war.

Russia has repeatedly insisted that it will not embark on a second wave of mobilization, In the wake of the initial partial call-up for Army reservists, which called up 300,000 men last September. The move sparked panic in Russia and prompted many eligible for conscription to flee the country.

Fears of another possible mobilization grew with the onset of winter. Putin said in December that he saw no need for a second draft, noting that half of the men called up had already been deployed to Ukraine, while the rest were in training centres.

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“Under these circumstances, it makes no sense to talk about any additional mobilization measures,” he said at the time.

Last Friday, Ukrainian Defense Ministry intelligence officials said they believed preparations for a second wave of mobilization were under way, suspecting Russia was aiming for a two-million-strong army.

“Ukrainian military intelligence does not rule out that the Russian leadership will announce another wave of mobilization in the coming days,” intelligence officials said in a statement, adding that another 500,000 Russians would be called up to “create strategic reserves.”

“Preparations to announce the next wave of mobilization in Russia are already underway. At the legislative level, changes are being made to the laws of the Russian Federation that regulate mobilization. Active training of training centers is also underway,” intelligence officials added.

The army is about to expand

During the winter, the war in Ukraine resembled a conflict of attrition, particularly in eastern Ukraine where fighting raged around Pakhmut – Russia’s next major target after hostilities against neighboring Solidar.

Daily casualties from Ukrainian and Russian forces are difficult to independently ascertain.

Both sides are expected to renew their counterattacks in the spring, raising expectations that Russia will call in more manpower.

A Ukrainian tank drives on a road near Pakhmut, in the Donetsk region, on December 2, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Anatoly Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

Moscow has made no secret that it is looking to expand its forces in the next few years. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in December put forward proposals to increase the number of military personnel to 1.5 million by 2026, from 1.1 million at present.

On Tuesday, Shoigu laid out more comprehensive plans for reforming and restructuring the army over the next few years, saying that “only by strengthening the main structural components of the armed forces can the military security of the state be ensured and the protection of new entities and vital facilities in the Russian Federation.”

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said later on Tuesday that the changes were necessary because of the West’s “proxy war” against Russia in Ukraine.

He said that proxy engagement “includes elements of indirect participation in hostilities, elements of economic and financial warfare, legal warfare, bypassing the legal field, and so on.”

“The security of our country must be guaranteed unconditionally, and in this case the Ministry of Defense plays its role,” Peskov said in remarks translated by NBC.

Peskov dismissed the idea of ​​another mobilization, adding that “the topic is constantly being artificially activated both from outside and from within the country. I still suggest that you remember for all time the relevant statements made by President Putin on this issue.”