Michael Kaufman, director of Russian studies at CNA, a defense research institute in Arlington, Virginia, said the Kremlin’s first step would likely be to call in reserve officers and others with newer military experience to replenish severely depleted units in the field, possibly in the next month or so . He said the Russian military had been identifying these individuals for months in anticipation of Mr. Putin’s order.
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“The bottom line is, it won’t change a lot of the problems the Russian army has had in this war, and the army will be limited to the number of additional troops it can put in the field,” said Mr. Kaufman. But he has already begun to address Russia’s structural problems with regard to manpower shortages and will expand Russia’s ability to withstand this war.
Kaufman said Putin’s announcement decisively indefinitely extends service contracts for thousands of soldiers who have signed up believing they will serve only several months, and puts in place policies and sanctions to prevent them from refusing to deploy to Ukraine or leaving the service.
Some officials said that even if Moscow could quickly mobilize some reservists, the Russian army faces a serious long-term shortage of equipment, vehicles and weapons, and the creation of entire new units to replace those lost in battle may not happen until early next year.
Frederick B. said: “Without massive artillery support, these new soldiers will be cannon fodder, sitting in cold, wet trenches this winter as Ukrainian forces continue to press on.”
Mr. Putin’s struggle to muster enough regular troops has forced the Kremlin to rely on a mixture of impoverished ethnic minorities, Ukrainians from separatist regions, mercenaries and military National Guard units to fight the war.
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