March 25, 2024

After Elections, Is It Time For Mobilizations?


After Elections, Is It Time For Mobilizations?
Russian soldiers handling military equipment.
Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Wikimedia Commons.
 

On March 22, Russian independent news outlet Vyorstka revealed that the Ministry of Defense plans to draft 300,000 soldiers to encircle Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. The timing isn't coincidental: according to the publication, the Kremlin has been waiting until the March presidential elections were over to begin a new wave of conscriptions.

Mass drafts are not popular in Russia. In September 2022, President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization, provoking over 700,000 persons to emigrate from the country. In September 2023, rumors swirled that Russia was preparing for a new wave of conscriptions. According to Vyorstka, authorities postponed drafting the mobilization until after the 2024 elections and asked pro-Kremlin media to avoid the subject.

The flow of people who voluntarily enlist to fight in Ukraine has significantly decreased. According to an unnamed Unified Contract Hiring Center employee in Moscow, quoted by Vyorstka, "Before, several hundred [recruits] came to the center, could be 500 to 600 (...) Now 20 to 30 new [recruits] arrive per day." Monthly salaries as high as  R805,000 ($8,273) have not incentivized potential recruits.

The first target of this alleged new wave is reservists, men who have signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense to serve as emergency manpower. They are active in the workforce but must complete military training twice a year. Despite having two million reservists, Russia has recently ramped up recruitment. A Trans-Baikal military officer told Vyorstka, "Something is coming (...) the ast [mass mobilization] the procedure was the same." A new center for conscripts is being set up in the Moscow Mayor's Office. In Leningrad Oblast, a military registration office pasted mobilization instructions onto reservists' identification cards. 

Conscripts from the "Mobilization 2.0" will allegedly be sent to Russia's southern border to free up more experienced personnel for the army's next objective: encircling Kharkiv. According to Vyorstka, a member of the Airborne Forces declared, "We are already going there, to Kharkiv." The publication noted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been expecting a new attack in the eastern part of their country.

A military employee told Vyortska that 300,000 persons are expected to be called up on March 25, but no other source has confirmed the date. 

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