Russo Ukrainian War. Day 215: Dagestan protests “partial mobilization”; security forces open fire

 

Daily review

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

More than 40 settlements were affected by enemy fire, including Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Odesa. Iranian drones attack the Dnipro and Odesa.  Sham referenda are held in the occupied territories. Mobilized Russian men arrive at military bases. Protests against forced mobilization continue in Russia. In Dagestan, the protests are gaining momentum. 2.500 Ukrainians are in Russian captivity, including civilians and many women. The 8th package of EU sanctions might not include the restriction of oil prices.

Daily overview — Summary report, September 26

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, September 26, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below.

Situation in Ukraine. September 25, 2022. Source ISW ~

Situation in Ukraine. September 25, 2022. Source ISW

https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua

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The two hundred-fifteenth (215) day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military large-scale invasion continues.
The enemy continues to focus its efforts on attempts to fully occupy the Donetsk region and hold the captured territories, as well as disrupt the active actions of the Defence Forces in certain areas. Fires at the positions of our troops along the contact line, tries to restore lost positions in certain directions, conducts aerial reconnaissance. Strikes civilian infrastructure and peaceful residential buildings, violating norms of International Humanitarian Law, laws and customs of war.
Donetsk Battle Map. September 25, 2022. Source ISW ~

Donetsk Battle Map. September 25, 2022. Source ISW

There is a threat of air and missile strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine. For example, over the past day, the enemy launched 5 missile and 12 air strikes, carried out more than 83 MLRS attacks. Also, the enemy used 4 attack UAVs to strike civilian infrastructure objects.
More than 40 settlements were affected by enemy fire. These are, in particular, Kupyansk, Kramatorsk, Bakhmut, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, Kamyanka, Kurakhove, Pavlivka, Zaporizhzhia, Nikopol, Ochakiv, Mykolaiv and Odesa.
The situation in the Volyn and Polissya directions has not changed significantly.
In other directions, the occupiers fired from tanks, mortars, and barrel artillery:
in the Siversky direction – in the area of ​​Oleksandrivka settlement of Sumy oblast;
in the Slobozhansk direction – in the areas of the settlements of Strilecha, Odnorobivka, Veterynarne, Hatyshche, Kamyanka, Holubivka and Senkove;
Kharkiv Battle Map. September 25, 2022. Source ISW ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. September 25, 2022. Source ISW

in the Kramatorsk direction – Novoselivka, Shchurove, Siversk, Hryhorivka, Belogorivka, Zakitne, Dibrova, Verkhnokamianske, Vesele, Rozdolivka, Ozerne and Spirne;
in the Bakhmut direction – Soledar, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Odradivka, Zaytseve, Klishchivka, Vesela Dolyna, Yakovlivka, Mayorsk, Nelipovka, Vyimka and Bilohorivka;
in the Avdiyivka direction – Avdiyivka, Opytne, Pervomayiske, Novomykhailivka and Paraskoviyivka.
18 settlements were shelled by tanks, mortars and barrel artillery in the Novopavlivsk and Zaporizhzhia directions. Among them are Yehorivka, Pavlivka, Zaliznychne, Novoandriyivka, Hulyaipilske, Hulyaipole, Uspenivka, Novosilka, Vremivka and Chervone.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. September 25, 2022. Source ISW ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. September 25, 2022. Source ISW

In the South Buh direction, more than 27 settlements near the contact line were damaged by artillery and mortar shelling.
On the territory of the russian federation, measures of partial mobilization, announced by the russian military and political leadership, are ongoing. Rostov region is closed for entry and exit. Persons who are not at the place of registration, through relatives, are ordered to appear within three days. Personnel arriving at assembly points in the Belhorod region are given a list of what they need to purchase at their own expense, in particular, warm clothing.
The enemy is also carrying out the mentioned measures in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. From September 24 of this year, in Sevastopol, at the base of the automobile battalion of the Black Sea Fleet, the training of the demobilized began.
In the city of Svatove, Luhansk oblast, summonses for mobilization are handed out to persons who have reached the age of eighteen. Individual citizens, truck drivers, are immediately sent to military units.
At the same time, the enemy is trying to implement the declared illegal “referendum” in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Thus, in populated areas of the Zaporizhzhia oblast, representatives of the occupation authorities, together with armed russian military, conduct house-to-house rounds, forcing local residents to participate in the so-called “referendum”. In addition, such rounds are also aimed at identifying men. The enemy carries out the same measures in the populated areas of the Luhansk oblast.
The occupiers continue to suffer losses. Another accurate hit was confirmed on September 24 of this year in the area of ​​concentration of enemy equipment on the territory of the industrial zone within the city of Kherson. Previously, the enemy lost up to 10 units of military equipment, losses in personnel are being clarified.
Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces repelled enemy attacks in the areas of Spirne, Soledar, Mayorsk, Bakhmut, Pidhorodne, Vyimka, Kurdyumivka, Zaitseve, Novomykhailivka, Pervomayiske, Kamyanka, Pobyeda, and Pavlivka.
Aviation of the Defence Forces made 33 strikes. It was confirmed that 25 areas of concentration of the enemy’s manpower and military equipment and 8 positions of anti-aircraft missile systems were hit. In addition, air defense units destroyed one Su-25 aircraft, Mi-8 helicopter and 2 enemy UAVs.
Missile troops and artillery, in particular, during the current day, hit 6 command and control points, 12 areas of concentration of enemy manpower and equipment, 2 positions of anti-aircraft missile systems, 3 units of missile troops and artillery, 6 warehouses with ammunition, as well as 9 separate important targets.

Military Updates

Shelling by the Russian troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by the Russian troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Regional Updates 

In the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia Oblast, in the occupied territories, the Russian Federation is conducting sham referenda. People are driven to the polling stations by force, seized at home and in the street.

In the Kherson Oblast, about 20 explosions reported. The Russian air defense was actively working. A hit on the Antonovsky bridge is reported.

In the Mykolaiv Oblast, residential buildings and the water supply network damaged by the Russian shelling. No casualties reported.

In the Dnipro and Odesa Oblasts, the Russian troops used Iranian drones to attack infrastructure objects. Some were eliminated.

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1574344545214545920

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

  • The initial tranches of men called up under Russia’s partial mobilisation have started arriving at military bases. Many tens of thousands of call-up papers have already been issued. Russia will now face an administrative and logistical challenge to provide training for the troops.

 

  • Unlike most Western armies, the Russian military provides low-level, initial training to soldiers within their designated operational units, rather than in dedicated training establishments. Typically, one battalion within each Russian brigade will remain in garrison if the other two deploy and can provide a cadre of instructors to train new recruits or augmentees. However, Russia has deployed many of these third battalions to Ukraine.

 

  • Many of the drafted troops will not have had any military experience for some years. The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilization, suggests that many of the drafted troops will deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation. They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of 26 September, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

Humanitarian 

2.500 Ukrainians are in Russian captivity, including civilians and many women, according to Deputy Prime Minister – Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk.

Military paramedic Maryana Mamonova, recently released from captivity, gave birth to a daughter in the Lutsk perinatal center four days after she and other defenders of Azovstal were released from Russian captivity.

Environmental 

Legal 

A polling station for the Russian Federation sham referendum was set on fire in Shchastya, Luhansk Oblast.  In the Svatovsky district, an explosion occurred. In Mankivka and Alchevsk, Russian barracks were exploded.

Serbia will not accept the results of “referenda” in the occupied territories of Ukraine. According to Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovich, holding “referenda” is contrary to international law.

Support 

The 8th package of EU sanctions might not include the restriction of oil prices. The package will include sanctions on chemicals, machinery, steel products, and will include a number of people involved in holding “referenda” in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

New Developments 

Dagestanis protest against mobilization; security forces opened fire. Mass protest is planned in the capital of the republic Makhachkala. A large-scale rally is already underway in the village of Endirey. There, people have blocked the federal highway, the security forces are shooting into the air in an attempt to disperse the protesters.
In Yakutia, 400 people came to the protest against the mobilization.Women danced around the security forces, protesting against mobilization.  The slogans included “No to war” and “No to genocide.” Russian National Guards dispersed the protestors.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

map source: https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-september-25*

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 24 September 2022:

Force Generation 9-19. Source ISW ~

Force Generation 9-19. Source ISW

Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to overcome fundamental structural challenges in attempting to mobilize large numbers of Russians to continue his war in Ukraine. The “partial mobilization” he ordered on September 21 will generate additional forces but inefficiently and with high domestic social and political costs. The forces generated by this “partial mobilization,” critically, are very unlikely to add substantially to the Russian military’s net combat power in 2022. Putin will have to fix basic flaws in the Russian military personnel and equipment systems if mobilization is to have any significant impact even in the longer term. His actions thus far suggest that he is far more concerned with rushing bodies to the battlefield than with addressing these fundamental flaws.

The Russian Armed Forces have not been setting conditions for an effective large-scale mobilization since at least 2008 and have not been building the kind of reserve force needed for a snap mobilization intended to produce immediate effects on the battlefield. There are no rapid solutions to these problems.

The problems Putin confronts stem in part from long-standing unresolved tensions in the Russian approach to generating military manpower. Russian and Soviet military manpower policies from 1874 through 2008 were designed to support the full mass mobilization of the entire Russian and Soviet populations for full-scale war. Universal conscription and a minimum two-year service obligation was intended to ensure that virtually all military-age males received sufficient training and experience in combat specialties that they could be recalled to active service after serving their terms and rapidly go to war as effective soldiers. Most Russian and Soviet combat units were kept in a “cadre” status in peacetime—they retained a nearly full complement of officers and many non-commissioned officers, along with a small number of soldiers. Russian and Soviet doctrine and strategy required large-scale reserve mobilization to fill out these cadre units in wartime. This cadre-and-reserve approach to military manpower was common among continental European powers from the end of the 19th century through the Cold War.

The Russian military tried to move to an all-volunteer basis amid the 2008 financial crisis and failed to make the transition fully. The end of the Cold War and the demonstration in the 1991 Gulf War of the virtues of an all-volunteer military led many states to transition away from conscription models. The Russian military remained committed to the cadre-and-reserve model until 2008, when Putin directed his newly appointed Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov to move the Russian military to a professional model and reform it to save costs following the 2008 financial crisis.[1] One such cost-cutting measure reduced the term of mandatory conscript service to 18 months in 2007 and then to one year in 2008.

The Russian military ended up with a hybrid model blending conscript and professional soldiers. Professional militaries are expensive because the state must offer prospective voluntary recruits far higher salaries and benefits than it gives to conscripts, who have no choice but to serve. Serdyukov quickly found that the Russian defense budget could not afford to offer enticements sufficient to overcome the centuries-old Russian resistance to military service. The Russian military thus became a mix of volunteer professional soldiers, whom the Russians call kontraktniki, and one-year conscripts.

The reduction in the mandatory term of service for conscripts made Russia’s reserves less combat ready. Conscripts normally reach a bare minimum of military competence within a year—the lost second year is the period in which a cadre-and-reserve military would normally bring its conscripts to a meaningful level of combat capability. The shift to a one-year term of mandatory military service in 2008 means that the last classes of Russian men who served two-year terms are now in their early 30s. Younger men in the prime age brackets for being recalled to fight served only the abbreviated one-year period.

The prioritization of building a professional force and the de-prioritization of conscript service likely translated into an erosion of the bureaucratic structures required for mobilization. Mobilization is always a bureaucratically challenging undertaking. It requires local officials throughout the entire country to perform well a task they may never conduct and rehearse rarely, if at all. Maintaining the bureaucratic infrastructure required to conduct a large-scale reserve call-up requires considerable attention from senior leadership—attention it likely did not receive in Russia over the last 15 years or so.

Putin has already conducted at least four attempts at mobilization in the last year, likely draining the pool of available combat-ready (and willing) reservists ahead of the “partial mobilization.”

  • The Russian military launched an initiative called the Russian Combat Army Reserve (the Russian acronym is BARS) in fall 2021 with the aim of recruiting 100,000 volunteers into an organization that would train them and keep them combat-capable while still in the reserves.[2] This effort largely failed, generating only a fraction of its target by the time of the Russian invasion in February 2022.
  • The Russian Armed Forces conducted an involuntary mobilization of part of its regular reserve in preparation for the invasion and in parallel with the BARS effort. Details about the pre-invasion call-up are scarce, but Western officials reported that the Russian military had recalled “tens of thousands” of reservists to fill out units before rolling into Ukraine.[3]
  • A third, smaller mobilization wave followed the invasion itself, as reports emerged of thousands of reservists being called up to make good Russian losses in early March 2022.[4]
  • Putin launched a fourth effort at mobilizing his population for war in June 2022, accelerated in July, with a call for the formation of “volunteer battalions.”[5] This undertaking was an ad hoc attempt at crypto mobilization. The Kremlin directed all of Russia’s “federal subjects” (administrative units at the province level on the whole) to generate at least one volunteer battalion each and to pay enlistment and combat bonuses out of their own budgets. This effort has generated a number of volunteer battalions, some of which have fought in Ukraine, albeit poorly.

The most recent “partial mobilization” will draw mainly on Russians who have demonstrated that they do not wish to fight by their failures to join “volunteer battalions” or enter the BARS program. It may also be drawing on less-qualified involuntary reservists as well, assuming previous involuntary mobilizations pulled in the readiest individuals.

Conducting voluntary and involuntary mobilization efforts simultaneously is likely straining the bureaucrats responsible for these efforts. The military commissars, local officials who actual recruit and call up conscripts and volunteers, were likely responsible for the BARS effort and were certainly responsible for the pre-war involuntary reserve call-up, the smaller reserve call-up after the invasion, and the recruitment of the volunteer battalions. The pre- and post-invasion involuntary reserve call-ups likely helped military commissars exercise general reserve call-up procedures. The subsequent emphasis on generating voluntary recruits, however, likely distracted them from those procedures and forced them to concentrate on an entirely new and unplanned-for effort. The military commissars appear to be tasked now with conducting both efforts simultaneously, as emerging evidence indicates that the formation of “volunteer battalions” is continuing alongside the involuntary reserve mobilization.

The current “partial mobilization” also highlights structural tensions in Russia’s military manpower system resulting from the fact that the Ministry of Defense appears to share responsibility for mobilization with local government officials. The mobilization decree Putin signed on September 21 states that the Defense Ministry establishes quotas and deadlines for reserve mobilization by region, but military commissars are clearly responsible for actually fulfilling those quotas.[6] The commissars do not appear to report to the MoD, however, but are rather subordinates of local and regional political leaders. It is unclear whether statements made by Defense Minister Shoigu about eligibility for exemptions from reserve call-ups are binding on the military commissars—it seems, in fact, that they are not. Shoigu announced in an interview on September 21, for example, that students would not be mobilized, yet military commissars have been mobilizing them.[7] The MoD reportedly summoned military commissars on September 24 to upbraid them for violating its policies, but it seems that Putin had to issue a new decree to explicitly exempt students, which he did on September 24.[8] This confusion has contributed to the anger fueling protests against mobilization and is likely reflective of larger bureaucratic confusion in the mobilization system itself.

Protests and resistance to involuntary mobilization also reflect Putin’s repeated and surprising failures to prepare his population for a major war. Russian senior officials and Kremlin mouthpieces were ridiculing the idea that Russia would invade Ukraine right up to the start of the invasion itself. Putin had made no effort to prepare his population for a war—apparently, even some Russian military personnel involved in the invasion were surprised when what they had thought was a training exercise turned out to be an actual attack. Putin has steadfastly continued to refer to the invasion as a “special military operation” rather than a war, moreover, and has not been setting informational conditions in Russia to prepare his people for this involuntary mobilization.

Putin’s informational failures in this regard are especially important because there are no Ukrainian or NATO troops on Russian soil and no threat of any invasion of the Russian heartland. This is not 1812, 1914, or 1941. The factors that drove popular mobilization in previous Russian wars are simply absent in this aggressive war of choice, however Putin frames it to his people. The World War II example of Russians rallying to the flag is particularly inapposite. The Nazi invasion was a literally existential threat to the existence of Russia and part of an overtly genocidal campaign to enslave those Soviet citizens it did not kill. The current conflict is as far from that reality as any war could be, and no rhetorical sleight of hand can replace the brutal realities of the Nazi armored advances as a spur to fight.

Russia will mobilize reservists for this conflict. The process will be ugly, the quality of the reservists poor, and their motivation to fight likely even worse. But the systems are sufficiently in place to allow military commissars and other Russian officials to find people and send them to training units and thence to war. But the low quality of the voluntary reserve units produced by the BARS and volunteer battalion efforts is likely a reliable indicator of the net increase in combat power Russia can expect to generate in this way. This mobilization will not affect the course of the conflict in 2022 and may not have a very dramatic impact on Russia’s ability to sustain its current level of effort into 2023. The problems undermining Putin’s effort to mobilize his people to fight, finally, are so deep and fundamental that he cannot likely fix them in the coming months—and possibly for years. Putin is likely coming up against the hard limits of Russia’s ability to fight a large-scale war.

Key inflections in ongoing military operations on September 25

ISW identified three small changes in control of terrain in the past 24 hours:

  • Ukrainian forces likely liberated the town of Shevchenko in Donetsk Oblast.[9]
  • Ukrainian forces likely control Maliivka in Kharkiv Oblast.[10]
  • Ukrainian forces are contesting Russian positions around Karpivka, Nove, Ridkodub, and Novoserhiivka in Donetsk Oblast.[11]
  • Russian sources claim that Russian forces hit Ukraine’s Operational Command South headquarters in Odesa with Shahed-136 drones on September 25.[12] Ukrainian Operational Command South reported Russian Shahed-136 drone strikes in Odesa, but not that its headquarters was a target of any of them.[13]

Key inflections in Russian force-generation efforts on September 25

  • The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian contract soldiers in Zaporizhzhia Oblast have been informed that the terms of their contracts are no longer relevant and that they will have to continue to serve at the discretion of the military command.[14] The General Staff also claimed that Russian authorities are telling men mobilized in Sevastopol that they will serve for the duration of the ”special military operation,” and that the Russian military is sending mobilized men directly to combat units without additional training.[15]

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