The mobilization announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday threatens to prolong the war in Ukraine without being able to change the reality on the ground, according to US experts, who said that Moscow’s threat to use nuclear weapons is worrying but probably absurd.
In an address to the nation, the Russian president announced a “partial mobilization” that includes 300,000 reservists, a large number compared to the 190,000 troops deployed to invade Ukraine in February, following a series of military setbacks in Donbass and the region. from Kharkiv, in the east of the country.
Western experts believe that mobilizing such a large number of people is not easy for Russian forces, and those newly involved in the conflict will arrive on the battlefield untrained and unenthusiastic.
“They won’t be able to get it right,” said Dara Massicot, a Russia expert at the Rand Corporation think tank.
“They will pick up people and send them to the front, with insufficient preparation, inefficient management and equipment in worse condition than that of the active forces,” he said on Twitter.
But Michael Kaufman of the Center for a New American Security think tank believes the danger posed by new Russian forces on the front lines should not be underestimated in prolonging the bloody conflict.
“This could increase Russia’s ability to prosecute the war without in any way changing its course or ending,” he added, adding that Ukraine maintains its edge in the field.
Rob Lee of the “Foreign Policy” think tank shares his view, saying that “every reason for optimism is still available about Ukraine,” as its forces have shown discipline and courage since the start of the war, unlike of the frustrated and undisciplined Russian forces. .
Experts agree on the poor quality of Russian military training, which is often limited to a few weeks with little equipment.
“The problem is that the Russian forces are poorly led and poorly trained,” said former General Mark Hertling, former commander of US ground forces in Europe.
He added that “raising 300,000 reservists after failure with depleted conventional forces and various militias, recruiting prisoners and using paramilitary forces like the Wagner Group would be very difficult.”
“Posting ‘newbies’ on a devastating front where morale is at an all time low and soldiers don’t want to stay foreshadows a new catastrophe,” he wrote on Twitter. She stressed that it was “further evidence of Russia’s weakness.”
Vladimir Putin’s statement that he is ready to use “all means” to confront the West, which he accused of wanting to “destroy” Russia, raises Western concerns.
John Spencer of the “Madison Policy Forum” considered these situations a “hoax”. He stressed that “the use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons means the end of the Putin regime and the Russian Federation in its current form.”
Other experts noted that Russia’s nuclear doctrine appears to have changed, wondering if it applies to Ukrainian lands that Moscow wants to annex.
Andrei Baklitsky of the United Nations Disarmament Research Institute emphasized that the Russian president’s positions “go beyond Russian nuclear doctrine which simply suggests that Russia first use (nuclear weapons) in a conventional war if the very existence of the country is threatened.
“The fact that it is issued by the only person who decides to use nuclear weapons in Russia must be taken seriously,” he added.
And nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen of the “Federation of American Scientists” said that by threatening to use nuclear weapons in contravention of official Russian policy, “Putin showed his confusion.”
“But it is clearly the most explicit nuclear threat Putin has ever made,” he added. He considered that “it is important that NATO does not fall into the trap and escalate its false accusations with explicit threats of nuclear retaliation.”
For its part, the United States said it takes Vladimir Putin’s threats “seriously” but refrained from stoking tensions. “A nuclear war is unwinnable and should not be fought,” President Joe Biden said in a speech at the United Nations.