Putin opens a new phase with the mobilization and annexation of territories

The war in Ukraine has entered a new stage this Wednesday. The president’s announcement Vladimir Putin of a partial mobilization (300,000 reservistsaccording to the Ministry of Defence) to confront the Ukrainian counter-offensive, together with the call for referendums on annexation to Russia in the territories it controls (Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia) represents a escalation in the conflict that will at least contribute to prolonging it over time.

With the mobilization, Putin recognizes that his professional forces and the deployment of they have failed to break Ukraine in seven monthswhen his initial strategy was a lightning offensive to reach kyiv in a few days and force a change of government.

annexation de facto of the occupied territories means that, for Moscow, will become part of the national territory and, therefore, its defense will be justified by all means, including a full mobilization or use of unconventional weaponsas Putin warned in his speech.

The invasion of Ukraine, from “lightning war” to long campaign

kyiv and Western foreign ministries have interpreted Putin’s order as a gesture of weakness. The counter-offensive has allowed Ukraine to recapture practically the entire Kharkov region and position itself at the gates of Luganskand has further exposed the problems facing Moscow on the ground.

The failures of its Army have become evident, while the Ukrainian armed forces have shown their effectiveness and have not stopped receiving military and financial support from the West. Some 6,000 Russian soldiers have died, of the 200,000 who have participated in the invasion, according to data from the Russian Defense Ministry, although the figure could be much higher. USA assures that the casualties exceed 70,000.

Calling for the mobilization of part of the reserve means that they need reinforcements, and therefore things are going badly for Russia

Putin’s speech has been clarifiedr – explains to RTVE.es Francis Serraprofessor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) – Despite what has been said up to now, things are not going well for Russia. There has been no explicit recognition, but an implicit one. The fact of calling for the mobilization of part of the reserve means that they need reinforcements, and, therefore, things are going wrong.”

However, the UAB professor does not believe that mobilization is efficient from a logistical point of view. “One of the problems is the lack of personnel and the high number of casualties, but it is only one part. Another part is that staff are poorly or poorly trained and increasingly less motivated”. In addition, underlines Serra, there is the lack of material which, according to US sources, has led Russia to look to North Korea for supplies.

Staff are poorly or poorly trained and increasingly less motivated

“One of the criticisms of the Kremlin is that the troops were clearly insufficient“, he explains to RTVE.es John Tovar, Professor of International Relations at the University of Burgos. “The mobilization will allow it to have more human resources and increase troop rotation. It’s a risky strategy from a domestic point of view, but losing the war is also risky.”

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“Russia’s change has been accelerated by the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkov, because Russia did not have enough troops to protect that region“, he explained on RTVE’s 24 Hours Channel Alvaro de Arguelles, analyst of The World Order. “Nobody thought that Russia was going to mobilize reservists, which is a population with little military experience, reintegrated into civilian life,” she adds.

Russia has added months to the conflict, but it does not reverse the trend – added Argüelles – It is losing thousands of square kilometers of territory, the Ukrainian Army is increasingly better armed and remains mobilized. Russia has not even achieved its minimalist strategy, which was control of Donbas.”

Internal risk for Putin

It remains to be seen how this enlistment will be carried out, which in itself is a logistics challengeand the internal political cost that this entails for Putin.

The mobilization decree [EN] it affects all “citizens of the Russian Federation”, but the Government can decide on exemptions. Defense Minister, Sergei Shoiguhastened to explain that Neither students nor those who are currently doing military service will be mobilized. The minister has assured that Russia can manage to mobilize 25 million men with military experienceso this appeal currently only affects 1%.

The Kremlin knows that a general mobilization could reduce the support it has among the population. According to the Russian statistical center Levada, Putin’s support is at 83%, and 76% approve of the “special military operation”. A majority of Russians are also in favor of Kherson and Zaporizhia separating from Ukraine, and 45% believe that they should be part of Russia. However, Russian society is divided on whether to continue military operations or sit down at the negotiating table, and young people prefer this last outlet.

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“Russian society will be more cautious towards war – confirms Francesc Serra – Until now there was quite a majority support. If we see that people are being forced into a war that is increasingly difficult to understand, part of the society that has supported it up to now can rebel“.

If the mobilization spreads to the young sons of the Russian middle class, it could lead to protests

“If the mobilization extends to the young sons of the Russian middle class, could lead to protests“, assures Juan Tovar. “If in addition to the mobilization it continues to lose the war, Putin will have no choice but to resort to everything he has at your service”.

In this context, it is necessary to understand the recent modification of the penal code in the Duma (Parliament), to toughen the penalties for surrender and desertion in case of mobilization or martial law, and to limit the cases in which they can be licensed. For now, the flights out of Russia have been filled after Putin’s announcement and the first outbreaks of protests in the streets have been repressed.

Russia ups the ante with annexation of Ukrainian territories

Putin addressed his speech this Wednesday “to the people of the great fatherland, to all those united by the great historical russia” and to “residents in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions and other areas liberated from the neo-Nazi regime [en referencia al Gobierno de Ucrania]”. Nobody doubts that the referendums in the occupied zones, if they are finally held, will yield a result in favor of annexation.

In that case, Moscow can consider them Russian territory, as has been the case with Crimea since 2014, and defend them with all the means at your disposalincluding tactical nukes, as foreseen by its military doctrine. “It’s not a lantern“, has warned the Russian president.

“The nuclear weapons are posed for this type of scenario – confirms Juan Tovar – Russia could use that weaponry or at least politically show that I would use it. ” “The question is whether these territories are as relevant to Russia as Crimea, which is vital,” he says.

Without going that far, Russia could also resort, according to Tovar, “to general mobilization or to attack civilian infrastructure key in Ukraine, as it has already begun to do, in the field of energy, communications…”.

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Serra highlights the importance of Moscow annexing the occupied territories, thus creating a “semi-pretext to semi-legitimize Russia’s presence in the area.” “If Russia is going to act like she’s defending her territory, weapon reinforcement explainedthe new conscription, the call to reservists etc”.

The UAB professor draws attention to how the Russian president, in his speech, has denounced the nuclear threat that the West poses to Russia. “War speeches are reversible, this has always been the case,” he underlines, and believes that it is not possible to rule out the use of this type of weapon outright. “You have to be very crazy to do itbut Putin has already crossed some red lines“.

A longer war of attrition

The first conclusion is that the war is far from over. Despite international calls for dialogue from countries that Russia considers friends, such as China, India and Turkey, Putin does not seem willing to give up territorial gains in Ukraine. kyiv, for its part, has assured that the Russian mobilization was “expected” and that it will continue to attack to recover all its territory.

Russia has the capabilities to initiate an escalation, the war will not have a quick endit is going to last beyond the winter”, considers Juan Tovar. The professor at the University of Burgos stresses that this scenario “is not good for any of the parties, not even for Ukraine, which month after month loses economic growth and goes into debt more and more”.

As winter approaches, pressure is also mounting on Ukraine’s European allies, who are suffering the repercussions of Russia’s power outage. “We have a war that will last a long timeand one of the factors is that of the domestic politics of the countries involved, the allies of Ukraine, the European countries and the US,” adds Tovar.

Prolonging the war will not be easy for Russia either without great allies, points out Francesc Serra. “A war is very expensive and Russia is not a rich country, its GDP is a little higher than that of Spain, and lower than that of Italy or South Korea. Can a war with so much wear and tear be allowed? In my opinion, No. But can you resign? I don’t know if Russia has a choice, but Putin probably doesn’t.“.

The Article Is In Spanish🡽

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