Putin Expands War Campaign in Ukraine
In a stark escalation in the conflict that is raging in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to mobilise more than 300,000 army Reservists in just a day after four of the Ukrainian regions declared illegal referendums for joining Russia.
Western experts and officials believe the announcement is a sign of his desperation growing and signals vulnerability as Ukrainian forces swiftly retake territories while the Russian military suffers massive losses. Between 70-80 percent of Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded during the conflict as per U.S. estimates.This “is one of the most significant/riskiest political decisions Putin has ever made,” Rob Lee, senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute, posted on Twitter and added the announcement is “an acknowledgment that Russia’s war was failing and a change had to be made.”
With less than 200 000 Russian troops that are believed to be present in Ukraine Putin’s plan is to bring in more than 300,000 individuals with military knowledge. According to Russian laws, they can be aged between 18 to 60. However, the decree is confined to detailsand is undefined and some experts think Putin deliberately left it unclear to allow for some flexibility in its implementation.
The low proportion of Russian Reservists who have combat experience–as well as the months-long training program described by Russian officials described –the Institute for the Study of War stated that the decision won’t affect the course of the war for a long time.
“This all adds up to a likely gradual call-up and deployment of limited numbers of reservists over the coming months that will not change the battlefield dynamics this year,” the article said on Twitter.
The troop increase is a result of his consistently denying plans to broaden his war campaign as The FP’s Amy Mackinnon, Jack Detsch as well as Robbie Gramer report. “It is likely to deal a serious–if not fatal–blow to Putin’s effort to pitch the war as a ‘special operation,'” they write, a frame that has helped shield Putin from criticism.
In Russia Putin’s announcement has already provoked a flood of anger and despair over 1,000 protesters being arrested since protests erupted. While others fled the country, tickets to fly quickly sold out or dramatically increased in cost.
In addition, adding more troops won’t do much to improve morale that is rapidly declining and indicates an army of mostly uninterested fighters, as well as more frustration at home.
“The war will now increasingly be fought on the Russian side by people who do not want to be there,” Lee tweeted. “The difference in morale, unit cohesion, and other critical factors between Ukrainian and Russian units will grow even greater.”
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