Tom, what is stopping the Kremlin from declaring general mobilization?
Mass mobilization will have a huge impact on Russian society. War is far away for many people, especially in big cities. The Kremlin takes the war away from them by sending soldiers mainly from poor provinces. Russia has never declared war on Ukraine. Announcing a general mobilization means the defeat of Putin’s “special military operation”.
At the same time, Russia needs more manpower at the front to restore its dominance over Ukraine. Will this eventually require general mobilization?
There are alternatives to public mobilization if Putin does not dare to do so. There is a lot going on between recruiting all the adult men in the country and doing nothing. At the moment, Russia is actively recruiting people into the army. For example, the Russian Railways were ordered to persuade employees to go to Ukraine. Soldiers’ salaries were raised. Now you can earn more than 200 thousand rubles per month, which are transferred over three thousand euros per month. This is really high by Russian standards. You also get all kinds of bonuses, a guarantee that your children will get a place at a good university and a good pension.
Russia could do more to send people on duty to Ukraine. It can encourage them to change their status and become professional soldiers without having to spend an entire year in the military. But this is getting more and more difficult, of course. The recruits also see that this is a war, that Russia is doing poorly and that their lives will therefore be in danger.
Is the Kremlin likely to eventually intervene to bring more soldiers to the front?
Russia has established a front line of more than two thousand kilometers. You need a huge number of soldiers to maintain it. Now they are not only driven to the northeast, but also have hard times in the south near Kherson, although there they hold out better. So the military has to do something.
Putin is the leader of a world power, he has never lost a military conflict. Russia is not used to losing. This counterattack in Ukraine is truly Russia’s biggest defeat since its withdrawal from Kyiv. This does not bode well for the coming months.
Remarkably, relatively few Russian soldiers were present during the counterattack in the Northeast. The army is largely made up of fighters from Luhansk, the Ukrainian province largely controlled by Russia since 2014. So it is clear that Russia is already suffering from a shortage of soldiers.
Are Russian youth ready to go to the battlefield?
Young Russians in big cities do not. They have a lifestyle similar to that of young people from Holland. They live in modern cities and feel no desire to risk their lives for Russia.
People who may be sensitive to this are young people from poor areas where there is little other business. The salaries that are now distributed are much higher than the average Russian salary. It can make going to Ukraine attractive.
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