why “general mobilization” is still not an option in the eyes of the Kremlin

“The Kremlin does not yet intend to announce the mobilization” general. On Tuesday, Dmitri Peskov, spokesman for the Russian presidency, had to answer, once again, this perplexing question for months. While Russian forces have suffered several setbacks in Ukraine, some Russian voices are calling again for the “Special Military Operation” (SVO) to step up a gear. And, especially, by calling all the men declared fit to fight.

There are some more examples, but MP Mikhail Sheremet (from the United Russia presidential party) said in particular* which cannot be obtained from the country “good result” no one “total mobilization” : “The situation in the SVO should have changed a long time ago. We must mobilize all our forces.” The leader of the Russian Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, also put his foot in the dish*. “In the last two months, the special operation has turned into a war” that was before “stated by the Americans, Europe and NATO”he said.

“These positions remain marginal and the question is never discussed in Russia”, However, says researcher Anna Colin Lebedev. And although the option was promoted by many military bloggers, angered after the failures suffered in the Kharkiv region. “These reporters make up a particular social group and represent only themselves, although they are widely consulted. Now there is a ‘Telegram’ effect [un réseau social] which did not exist during the war in Chechnya, for example.”

Deputy Andrey Gurulev, Lieutenant General of the Reserve, said he was ready to deploy “the shoulder pad and the uniform”while adding that such mobilization, at this stage, is not “no need”. This idea, moreover, is annoying in high places. He qualifies as“nonsense” by Andreï Klimov, who oversees a committee of the Federation Council, which directly involves foreign journalists. “I think they received an order and they will push this theme in their questions”he accused the Parliamentary newspaper*.

To be desirable, a general mobilization must still meet operational requirements. And Russia’s recent failures don’t necessarily have to do with personnel issues. Alexander Khodakovsky, a battalion commander Vostok, blamed instead* on the misuse of troops, equipment problems and a failed organization. According to him, these problems must be solved first. By sending inexperienced men to the front, Russia will continue “grind its resources in the meat grinder of war”.

Furthermore, Russia’s capabilities to mobilize and accommodate such a troop surge are limited. “Russia does not know how to train fighters on a large scale. The poor quality of the military service, within it, was also criticized by the Russian command”insists Anna Colin Lebedev, who devoted his thesis to the question. “There are countless accounts of service where men never held a weapon. If there is a mobilization, who will train these future warriors if there are not enough officers?” And how are they equipped?

Russia also has several other levers to raise troops. “The conscripts, whose training lasts a year, represent the main breeding ground”, explained Anna Colin Lebedev. This, in fact, can change the situation after four months to become soldiers under contract, with different durations. “These are young people who are usually from modest backgrounds and distant places, more sensitive to propaganda. A large part of the recruits do it of their own free will, because of the big salary.” the New York Times thus evoked, in the middle of July, salaries between 2,000 and 6,000 dollars per month for some volunteers, while the average monthly salary is around 700 dollars.

However, “The experience of conscription in Russia in recent years, and this year even more, shows a relatively low rate of enlistment”recalled Dimitri Minic, researcher at the French Institute of International Relations, in The JDD (article reserved for subscribers). Anna Colin Lebedev also pointed out that the Ministry of Defense did not announce the numbers for the last round of recruitment, in mid-July. “The objectives are still far from being achieved, according to the cross-checks of journalists adding to the region’s numbers.”

Another option: the call for volunteers in the territorial defense battalions, under the protection of the regions, although the experiences are still mixed. Anna Colin Lebedev awakened, in another register, the “tremors” secret recruitment of reserves: “The testimonials show thirty or forty year olds with a technical specialty, for example as a mechanic.” Summoned to military police stations for administrative reasons, they were forced to enlist, which was illegal.

“The power of Russia, perhaps, does not need to declare full mobilization.”

Anna Colin Lebedev, specialist in post-Soviet societies

at franceinfo

“Russia will probably mobilize, but on an ad hoc basisthe researcher believes, maybe in the border regions of Ukraine, or with some businesses. But as invisible as possible. ”

The question is, in fact, very sensitive. “During the Soviet era, the government demanded many sacrifices in the name of the general interest and the country.continued Anna Colin Lebedev. But since the fall of the USSR, there has been a strong reluctance to make sacrifices in the name of the common interest. The strategy of the Russians now is to find.”

“The social contract between the power of Russia and its population is not clear”, he added, because the loyalty of the president is based on an economic dimension. Therefore, “Putinism” is based on a division of roles, for about twenty years. “Russians have noticed that their standard of living has improved, thanks to the hydrocarbon kitty. In return, power is asking them to stay out of politics.”

“The power has every interest in maintaining the idea of ​​a special military operation, which has nothing to do with the entire population.”

Anna Colin Lebedev, specialist in post-Soviet societies

at franceinfo

“When Vladimir Putin says that everyone should be armed, it will challenge the social contract”, the researcher added. This shift from the role of spectator to actor has uncertain consequences within the country. “This does not mean that Russians will go to the streets to protest against the war, but there is a good chance that a significant part of the population concerned will choose not to comply. This is clearly a rejection of the authorities.”

* Links followed by an asterisk are in Russian.

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