In September, Russian troops were driven out of the eastern part of Kharkiv Oblast beyond the Oskil River, suffering further losses. The Ukrainians managed to liberate an area of 8,000 km2 and they proceeded further.
Putin came under increasing pressure from military experts and radical nationalists, who accused the Russian Ministry of Defense of conducting the war poorly, not deploying enough forces, and facing defeat. The effort to solve the lack of men by recruiting volunteers failed, the volunteer battalions established on a territorial basis could not be filled, moreover, mainly unemployed people signed up for the rewards. Recruiting prisoners into Wagner’s private army didn’t help either.
Putin announced a partial mobilization
For a long time, Russian President Putin resisted the pressure to declare mobilization, he did not want to be the one who dragged Russia into the war, because it spoiled the false image of Russia as a peace-making country. He did not even do it on May 9, as expected after the defeat of Russian troops near Kiev and Chernihiv. At that time, the Russian president still relied on leadership changes and resisted the successful advance of the invasion forces in the south.
However, the front did not move during the summer, and in September came a lightning Ukrainian counterattack. If Putin did not want to admit defeat and withdraw from his plan to control Ukraine or at least another part of it, he could not proceed otherwise. And he couldn’t admit defeat because it would mean the end of him. The leader of the Kremlin had to bet on one card and hope for the support of the people, which he spoke about in the speech.
Before the invasion began, the confident Russian president forgot Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s famous dictum that there are so many variables in war that conducting it is not a craft but an art. Putin does not master this art, he did not realize that plans can never fully work out and the war goes its own way after its launch.
The Ukrainians did not welcome the Russian troops, the lightning Russian victory that the Russian leadership dreamed of did not come, but the war grew into a large-scale long-term conflict, that is, exactly one for which the Russian armed forces were not prepared. They counted on the deployment of large forces in a short conflict. They did not have reserves ready for the rotation that a long conflict requires, and they had no way to replace the dead, which, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russia now admits to 5,937, which will probably be a significantly underestimated number. His words that 90 percent of the wounded returned to duty speak of the desperate lack of manpower.
However, even partial mobilization does not solve the current situation at the front, even though it should start today. The reservists, who are to be affected by the partial mobilization, will also undergo training, which, according to Putin, should also include lessons from a special military operation, as the Kremlin refers to the invasion. They will reach the front in a few weeks or rather months at the earliest, when the Ukrainian troops will be armed and carefully dug in at their new positions. If we do not want to see a Russian victory, it will be necessary to continue to support Ukraine militarily.
Putin’s statement that Russia has many weapons to respond to the “blackmailing of the West” raises concerns. When he says, “We will use all the resources we have to defend our people,” he is clearly referring to Russia’s nuclear weapons. Their use cannot be ruled out, Putin would not be the only dictator who would rather have his country and nation destroyed than lose the war and bear the consequences. Adolf Hitler said before the end of the war that a weak nation that lost the war did not deserve to survive.