Ukraine war: Russia's mobilisation efforts are likely to fail, according to ISW think tank

Russian recruits gather outside a military recruitment center of Bataysk, Rostov-on-Don region, south of Russia, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.
Russian recruits gather outside a military recruitment center of Bataysk, Rostov-on-Don region, south of Russia, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Copyright AP/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Sasha Vakulina
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Previous attempts at rounding up Russians to fight have likely drained the pool of reservists ahead of the latest “partial mobilisation," says the Institute for the Study of War.


Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to overcome fundamental structural challenges in attempting to mobilise large numbers of Russians to continue his war in Ukraine. That's according to the think tank the Insitute for the Study of War (ISW), in a special edition of the campaign assessment, focused on Russian military mobilisation efforts.

Putin already conducted at least four attempts at rounding up Russians to fight over the past year, which has likely drained the pool of available combat-ready and willing reservists ahead of the “partial mobilisation," the ISW added. 

Recruitment efforts

The first started in autumn 2021 when the Russian military launched an initiative called the Russian Combat Army Reserve with the aim of recruiting 100,000 volunteers. This effort largely failed, the ISW says.

Then there was a pre-invasion call-up, right before February 24th when Russia invaded Ukraine. This was followed by a third and smaller effort during the invasion period itself in early March 2022.

Russia then launched a fourth effort in June 2022, with a call for the formation of “volunteer battalions”.

Map of where Russia is recruiting its troopsEuronews

The Kremlin directed all of Russia’s “federal subjects”,  to generate at least one volunteer battalion each and to pay enlistment and combat bursaries out of their own budgets. This effort has generated a number of volunteer battalions, some of which have fought in Ukraine, but many have not advanced with success.

Ukraine continues to push Russian troops back

The latest marshalling has been called after Ukrainian forces have recaptured key towns and villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region. As the counteroffensive here continues, Ukrainian forces are pushing from the Kharkiv region towards the region of Luhansk, with the heaviest fighting happening here, around Lyman.

The UK defence ministry in its daily intelligence update says: "The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilisation, suggests that many of the drafted troops will deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation. They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate."

Watch Sasha Vakulina's full map report in the video player above.

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