According to the latest assessment of the Russian offensive campaign by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the “partial mobilization” announced in Russia on 21 September “reflected many problems Russia faces in its faltering invasion of Ukraine that Moscow is unlikely to be able to resolve in the coming months.”
The ISW says that the announced Russian mobilization campaign “will not generate significant usable Russian combat power for months. It may suffice to sustain the current levels of Russian military manpower in 2023 by offsetting Russian casualties, although even that is not yet clear.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a Sep 21 interview that the mobilization will occur in deliberate phases, “likely precluding any sudden influx of Russian forces that could dramatically shift the tide of the war,” as per ISW.
“Russia’s partial mobilization will thus not deprive Ukraine of the opportunity to liberate more of its occupied territory into and through the winter,” ISW says.
Other key points of the ISW’s assessment are:
- Putin and Shoigu emphatically said that only reservists who have completed their initial military service will be mobilized, making clear that Russia won’t be expanding conscription.
- It’s not clear how much of the Russian reserve has already been deployed to fight in Ukraine.
- Russian reserves are poorly trained to begin with and receive no refresher training once their conscription period is completed.
- Reports conflict regarding how much training reservists called up in the partial mobilization will receive.
- Putin emphatically didn’t say that the Russian nuclear umbrella would cover annexed areas of Ukraine nor did he tie mobilization to the annexation.
- Putin didn’t connect annexation with the partial mobilization either.
- Russia’s partial mobilization won’t transform the war this year and may or may not have a significant impact on Russia’s ability to continue operations at their current level next year.