Russia mulls fresh mobilisation of half-a-million conscripts for Ukraine

The Kremlin is still refusing to confirm speculation but quietly removed a rule that exempted fathers with three or more children from mobilization

Will he or won’t he? This is the question surrounding Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin as he contemplates a second wave to mobilize his forces in Ukraine.

Moscow sat quietly while Nato and Germany debated whether to arm Ukraine using Leopard 2 tanks.

However, there are signs that Russia’s leadership is becoming more preoccupied with a personal dilemma.

Ukraine has warned for weeks about the possibility of half-a-million additional troops being forced to fight for Russia.

The Kremlin is still denying plans but it quietly removed a rule exempting fathers with three or more children, just a week earlier.

According to reports from Russia’s regions, military commissars were also ordered to compile lists of combat-age men. Factory managers were asked to tell their workers if they have any spares for the army.

MPs now propose a law to give Russia’s National Guard greater power to enforce military draft orders. Another law will allow Russians fleeing abroad to have their property confiscated.

Moscow’s mayor’s office is said to be increasing its staff to handle conscription. However, certain holidays for civil servants have been reportedly cancelled.

Rumours of martial law have been spreading via influential social media channels.

Putin even suggested that he was considering a second mobilization when he visited a St Petersburg military production factory and assured anxious workers that they would not be called up.

Analysts believe that calling for a second mobilization is also a risky move.

Professor Mark Galeotti, a Russia analyst, stated that Putin, the Kremlin and all those around Putin know the political consequences of everything they do.

The first Russian mobilization since 1941 shocked ordinary Russians and eroded their faith in the Kremlin.

They were promised that the Kremlin’s February invasion of Ukraine would be over within a few days. Families were saying goodbye to their men and unsure if they would see them again. Many of the 320,000 mobilised men have died.

The Kremlin has changed its domestic propaganda tactics. While it still calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation”, the Kremlin now views it as essential to survival against the Nazi-supporting West.

It is essentially a steeling of ordinary Russians to defend the Motherland and make the same sacrifices as other generations, particularly in the Second World War.

Analysts believe that the Kremlin intends to test the West’s resolve through continual reinforcement of its army.

Konrad Muzyka of defense consultancy Rochan stated that Russia could announce another wave of mobilization and increase its armed forces. This would prolong the war in Ukraine for years.

Kremlin dithering over renewed mobilisation may betray division in Moscow.

Its Wagner mercenary force is estimated to have 50,000 soldiers fighting in Ukraine. However, it will be hard to expand.

Another option is to send Russia’s conscripts into battle.

Russia annually conscripts approximately 120,000 soldiers into its army each Spring and Autumn. The Kremlin may extend this conscription for 24 months and send them off to fight on the annexed territory of Ukraine. This is legal under Russian law but could cause real anger among ordinary Russians.

Professor Galeotti stated that conscripts are simply children who were sent to do their national service. Putin is well aware of the political backlash against using them.

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