After a little more than a month, Russia’s mobilization of 300,000 new troops to help in its invasion of Ukraine is complete. Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced the success of the effort on Friday, Oct. 28 in a televised address to Russian President Vladimir Putin. What Shoigu did not mention is how poorly prepared and equipped these reinforcements are.
The Associated Press reported on multiple incidents shared on social media of newly deployed Russian soldiers complaining about many issues, including rusty weapons, lack of equipment in the cooling months and food shortages. In some cases, the Associated Press found, soldiers lack shelter outright and sleep on the floor.
Although Russia has apparently hit its goal of mobilizing 300,000 servicemembers, they are not all fighting. During Shoigu’s announcement he said that 82,000 of that new force has been deployed to Ukraine already. The others are in training. What that training is isn’t clear, with some only getting a few weeks at most. Reservists called up have not had any since their initial training.
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Before Putin’s order in September, Russia had been struggling to get more people to sign contracts to join the military. It got desperate, with people trying to recruit at homeless shelters in St. Petersburg. Putin’s mobilization order was meant to fix those issues by quickly getting more people into the military quicker. Shoigu had said the mobilization would bring up reservists who have had military training, although it has gone beyond that in some cases. In a rare admission of failure, Putin responded to Shoigu’s address by saying “It’s necessary to draw the necessary conclusions and modernize the entire system of work of military registration and enlistment offices.”
The effort was met with major protests in city streets, attacks on enlistment officers at recruiting stations and even an insider attack in Belgorod earlier this month, which left 11 people dead.
The mobilization was also meant to help bolster the Russian forces to take more territory in Ukraine. Instead, since Putin gave the order, Ukrainian troops have launched successful counterattacks, taking large swathes of land in the country’s east and south. Ukraine has also, unlike Russia, been steadily supplied with Western weapons and ammunition. Russia meanwhile has been losing military equipment due to Ukrainian resistance, including many of its tanks, which are in some cases fielded against them. Russia has had to go to nations such as North Korea to try and replenish its ammunition supplies.
The mobilization officially ends with a decree from the president, but so far Putin has not yet issued one.
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