October 5, 2022

‘Partial mobilisation’ of Russian reservists may reveal Putin’s desperation


Faced with a series of setbacks in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilisation” of Russia’s reservist forces on Wednesday. But some analysts say the move will have only a limited impact on the front lines of the conflict. 

In a televised address on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilisation” of Russia’s reservist forces to help boost the war effort in Ukraine.

The mobilisation of these forces will serve to “protect our nation, its sovereignty and territorial integrity” as well as “ensure the security of our people and those in areas that have been liberated”, he said, the latter a reference to occupied areas of Ukraine. 

In his speech, Putin appeared to shift from his previous justification for the invasion – that Russia was merely conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine – to invoking a more existential threat, namely that Russia is resisting an onslaught from a West whose objective is “to weaken, divide and finally destroy this country”.

Shortly after Putin’s speech his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said that Russia is not at war with Ukraine but with the “collective West”. Shoigu also offered more details on the new plan, specifying that it would involve only 300,000 reservists who have already served in combat.

But some fear this is just the beginning of a broader mobilisation. “The mobilisation order is formulated in the vaguest terms possible, allowing the minister of defence to decide who and how many people will be sent to the front. Sergei Shoigu has capped the number at 300,000, but he can revise this at any moment and mobilise unlimited reservists,” Pavel Chikov, a Russian lawyer and chairman of the Agora International Human Rights Group, wrote on Telegram.

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