Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, President Vladimir Putin has strategically avoided the mass mobilisation of his nation in order to maintain the guise that the conflict is a “special military operation” rather than a full scale war. The Kremlin has avoided mobilising civilians for the war effort over fears that the country could erupt with “political public backlash.” However, President Putin’s bid to disguise the scale of the war through propaganda and misinformation may soon be exposed as Moscow is reportedly struggling to sustain a steady supply of troops and military equipment to the frontline amid such high levels of Russian fatalities.
Dr Patrick Bury, a senior lecturer in security at the University of Bath, spoke to Express.co.uk to offer his analysis of Russia’s performance in the conflict.
Dr Bury discussed issues the Ukrainian military forces had faced in training new troops that had been rapidly drafted into the army with little to no fighting experience.
He added: “Russia faces the same thing, although they haven’t mobilised because of the special military operation.
“Putin is obviously, from an information perspective, very wary of what would happen if he did that in terms of the political public backlash against him. He is very concerned about that.”
President Putin had previously outlined the Russian plan for a “lightning” strike on Ukraine which would seize the capital of Kyiv and quickly bring the entire country under Kremlin control.
Over six months into the conflict, Russia has failed to occupy Kyiv and the Ukrainian defence remains determined to force Russian invaders back over the border.
Dr Bury continued: “So, what they [Russia] are doing is trying to increase the complement of their military. We saw them in the last couple of days adding 137,000 to the size of the army.
“They are trying to get volunteer battalions up but that doesn’t look like it is filling the heavy losses they have taken.”
Last week, a Presidential decree was issued to increase the strength of the Russian armed forces to 1,150,628, an increase of nearly 140,000 personnel.
It remains unclear as to whether Russia plans to fulfill this target through increased conscription or an expansion of recruitment for volunteer contracted soldiers.
Either way, the plan is unlikely to increase Russia’s military power in Ukraine as very few contract soldiers are reportedly being recruited by authorities and conscripts are generally exempt from being deployed to conflicts abroad.
The UK Ministry of Defence reported the recruitment drive for new troops would likely make little progress in replacing the “tens of thousands” of soldiers Russia have already lost in the war.
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