Politics

Ukraine update: How could Russia make use of a general mobilization?

Trench warfare on the eastern Donbas front.

I wrote an entire update earlier today on the possibility that Ukraine had taken a key city near Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s northeast. Looks (indirectly) confirmed. 

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While War Mapper is wisely still waiting for official confirmation before marking it on his maps, this activity means a lot of previously red and pink territory east of Kharkiv has been cleared: 

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Ukrainian forces pushing out from Chuhuiv southeast of Kharkiv can rest easier about their northern left flank, but the effort has come at great cost. Today, Ukraine admitted they took heavy losses in the liberation of Ruska Lozova, just north of Kharkiv. And a few days ago, Ukraine got smashed trying to take Kozacha Lopan up north, on the Russian border. Russia isn’t giving up this territory easily, and things might get even tougher the closer Ukraine gets to the international border. 

In the Izyum axis, Russia made some incremental gains. 

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Lyman and Yampil are on the north side of the Donets river, so Ukraine has room to fall back to the next defensive layer, behind the river. As long as those towns are fully evacuated, Ukraine has plenty of ground to spare. It’s a miracle they’ve lasted this long on the Russian-separatist side of the Donets. Losing those cities isn’t catastrophic, it’s likely inevitable. It just means Ukraine gets to move behind the river, where the defenses are even stronger. Land for blood. 

Incidentally, that river is the reason Izyum was so important—it finally gave Russia a river crossing, the only one thus far in this axis. 

All other fronts were quiet, including the rest of the long Donbas front. People are already talking about a “strategic pause to resupply and reinforce positions,” but I bet Russia is already running out of steam. And whether Vladimir Putin calls a general mobilization or not will be irrelevant. 

Say he does—something I explored in a previous update—then what? Russian logistics are stretched to the breaking point, unable to keep up with whatever they have in theater at this moment. They have a conscript class of 130,000 currently in progress. Are they going to throw them all into Ukraine at once? Draft even more? How will they feed 130,000 (or more) new soldiers, when they can’t even take care of what’s there now? What vehicles will they ride, when everything arriving at the front these days look like “Scooby vans”? What dusty and rusty old Soviet-era equipment will they dig up from pilfered reserve stocks to equip them? 

I suspect is these new conscripts will be sent to existing units to replace combat losses, just like Russia has done all war. Ineffective units will become even more so, low morale will reach even deeper lows, and forget about any notion of unit cohesion. Or worse, they’ll be used in a “Zerg rush,” as suggested by Ukrainian Presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych. If you’ve played Starcraft, you know what he’s talking about. 

It’s a computer game, it has a nation—Zergs, insect. And since earthlings and another people have advanced technology, these just throw in masses. 

So what I’m thinking, judging by the people who are right now reinforcing infantry units of the Russian army, they are not specialists, not artillerists, not tank men. They are recruiting lumpens, they are given some old uniform, given boots from 1951, machine gun from 1947, and a helmet from 1943, and sent into combat. Heroically sent to battle […] [But,] they do not pose a combat power, only representing live power, but it’s not for long either. 30% of those who entered Ukraine in two weeks, only 30% are still alive. A part ran away, a part was destroyed. I think that by mid-May they can recruit 10,000 people. And they will heroically go somewhere, the question is where? And this will look similar to invasion by Chinese volunteers in the Korean War. 

Human waves. That’s the only way Russian volunteers and conscripts can be used in the war. They’re not going to learn combat skills. The original invading force lacked them, and they were supposedly trained. 

These poor souls will be sacrificed en masse to Putin’s megalomania as Ukrainian artillery shreds them to pieces. This is a war crime, not on the Ukrainian people, but on Russia’s youth itself. 




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