Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Mobilization can’t save Russia’s war

By Doug Klain

04 Oct 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

A Foreign Policy columnist argues that Vladimir Putin's move to send poorly trained youth to fight motivated Ukrainian soldiers will lead only to more Russian battlefield failures.

Six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged that his “special military operation” to eradicate the Ukrainian nation wouldn’t require a general mobilization of Russia’s men, the flagging leader has doubled back on his word, sparking outrage across Russia. Declaring that 300,000 “reservists”—nominally those with previous military service—would be mobilized, the deadly combination of unrest at home and an ever more limited military apparatus facing down an increasingly better-armed Ukrainian army means that even if Moscow can meet its recruitment goals, Putin’s mobilization is doomed to fail.

Momentum continues to be on Ukraine’s side. Its armed forces are doubling down on their successful offensive in the east, and the United States announced a new tranche of long-term military support, including more than doubling Ukraine’s stock of HIMARS—the devastating artillery rocket system that was crucial to Ukraine being able to take the fight to more occupied territories. The Ukrainian public has retained, and even strengthened, its remarkable resolve to win outright.

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