Russia's Partial Mobilization Unable to Change Ukraine's War Situation
With the Russian army’s recent
successive setbacks in eastern Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin finally
announced a partial military mobilization on September 21.
“I find it necessary to support
the proposal of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff on partial
mobilization in the Russian Federation to defend our Motherland and its
sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to ensure the safety of our people
and people in the liberated territories”, Putin said in his speech, “only
military reservists, primarily those who served in the armed forces and have
specific military occupational specialties and corresponding experience, will
be called up. Before being sent to their units, those called up for active duty
will undergo mandatory additional military training based on the experience of
the special military operation”. This mobilization begins on September 21. “I
am instructing the heads of the regions to provide the necessary assistance to
the work of military recruitment offices”, Putin added.
This partial mobilization may
be related to the referendum in the occupied territories of Ukraine. The four
regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson announced on September
20 that a referendum aimed at joining the Russian Federation will be held.
Among them, the Donbas region formed by the first of these two is the top
priority of the “special military operation” of the Russian army. Putin said in
his speech that the main goal of Russia is to "liberate" the Donbas
A national defense mobilization
can include armed forces, national economy, civil air defense, and politics. It
is an emergency measure taken by a state to shift from peacetime status to that
of wartime, and to mobilize human, material, and financial resources to serve
the war in a unified manner. Mobilization can be divided into full and partial
according to the scale. It can also be classified based on its openness and
confidentiality based on the means, as well as early and continuous in relation
to timing. Mobilization is usually issued by the head of state or government. It
is a strategic matter involving all fields of the country's military, politics,
economy, culture, education, science and technology, diplomacy, and so on.
This is Russia's first national
defense mobilization after World War II. What impact will this mobilization
have on the Ukrainian war? Will it lead to an escalation of the war in Ukraine?
Or, will it trigger a third world war, even leading towards nuclear war?
What is certain is that
Russia's mobilization has to do with its continuous defeats in the Ukraine war.
Since August, the Ukrainian army has carried out effective counterattacks with
the support of the West. Some territories in the Donbas region previously
occupied by the Russian army, at a great cost, have been recovered. The Russian
army has suffered a large-scale rout. If Russia cannot even hold on to the
victory in the Donbas region, the basic goal of its "special military
operation" will be difficult to achieve. When this happens, it will be an
unacceptable defeat for Putin.
The war in Ukraine has lasted
for more than 200 days. With this, Russia's economic and defense capabilities
have suffered a lot. The data disclosed by Ukraine and Western countries show that
more than 50,000 Russian troops have died; while Russian Defense Minister
Sergei Shoigu said that Russia lost 5,937 people in the so-called “special
military operations”, a difference of nearly 10 times between the two figures.
From the battlefield information reported by the media, the reduction of
Russian troops, especially the officers with combat experience, on the battlefield
is extremely serious. This effectively further diminishes the capability and
morale of the army. The Russian army suffered a major defeat in the Kharkiv
region, and the serious shortage of troops was one of the important reasons.
Shoigu said partial mobilization is needed to control the 1,000-kilometer
contact line and the “liberated” areas of Ukraine. During the mobilization
period, a total of 300,000 reservists will be recruited, which is slightly more
than 1% of Russia's general mobilization resources. He also stated that university
students are not involved in the mobilization now, nor in the future under any
Ukraine and the West have
condemned Russia's partial mobilization order. The Ukrainian side said that
Russia's move was a "predictable action" and stressed that the
mobilization order would not be supported by the Russian people. Ukrainian
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, “Sham ‘referendums’ will not change
anything. Neither will any hybrid ‘mobilization’”. British Foreign Minister Gillian
Keegan, German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, and the American ambassador to
Ukraine Bridget A. Brink criticized Russia for attempting to escalate the
conflict, that Putin has broken his promise not to mobilize part of the
population, and the West will respond to this. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte
said, "The mobilization, calling for referenda in the Donetsk, it is all a
sign of panic. His (i.e., Putin’s) rhetoric on nuclear weapons is something we
have heard many times before, and it leaves us cold".
It is worth noting that the
Chinese Foreign Ministry's statement on this is the same as it has always been.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that China's position on
the Ukraine issue has always been clear, and he maintains that the sovereignty
and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected. Wang added that
the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed, and the
legitimate security concerns of all countries need to be taken seriously. He
also called for the support of peaceful resolutions to the crisis.
What will happen to the Ukraine
war after Russia imposes partial mobilization? Based on the current situation,
these are the possible changes:
First of all, few alternatives are
left for both Russia and Ukraine, as there will be less room for maneuver and
negotiation. Carrying out partial mobilization and investing more troops into
the Ukrainian battlefield means that Russia has now poured a greater "bet"
into the Ukrainian war. It also means that if Russia fails in the future, the
price that it has to pay will be even higher. It is even less likely for
Ukraine, which is now on the verge of smooth progress on the battlefield, to
accept the outcome of peace talks or the referendum. Therefore, the two sides
can only continue to invest more resources to fight until the final victor is
Second, the war in Ukraine may intensify,
and the duration of the war could be further extended. With both sides pouring
in more “bets”, there is no way out for either of them. This is a dangerous outcome,
as it signifies that the war is likely to escalate. For Russia, in the absence
of substantive support from other countries, there are theoretically two levels
of war. The first is the general mobilization of national defense, which means
that all national forces are invested in the war against Ukraine. The second is
to launch a nuclear war. This, however, means not only the end of Russia but
the destruction of all humanity. At present, the probability of the latter is
extremely small. For Ukraine, its goals are clear and there is little option,
and it will continue to make greater sacrifices for the escalation of the war
with aid from the West.
Third, regardless of the
outcome of the Ukraine war, the U.S. and the West's purpose of weakening Russia
will be achieved. Currently, the U.S. still controls the bottom line for NATO
countries not to engage Russia directly, in order to avoid the outcome of a
third world war or a nuclear war. If NATO weakens Russia through Ukraine within
this framework, Russia’s economic and military capabilities will be
significantly incapacitated. With this, a once great power that had a huge
influence on the world will be vastly undermined in the international political
arena, effectively being “denationized”.
Final analysis conclusion:
On the whole, Russia's move of
partial mobilization will prolong and escalate the war, causing more casualties
on both sides. However, it will not change the war pattern much. At the recent Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told
Putin that, “today’s era is not of war”. Putin responded that the conflict
between Russia and Ukraine will be ended as soon as possible. This scene is
quite symbolic. The continuation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a huge
disaster for both sides. The best way to end it is to end the war. Stopping the
war in time may also preserve both countries, but allowing the war to spread
and escalate will cause them to collapse.