Kyiv, Ukraine – Tested and determined to win, the Ukrainian soldiers see the looming appearance of tens of thousands of mobilized Russians as a minor threat.
“Their attacks will be very aggressive, but not dangerous,” one soldier, who spent several months on the front lines of the southern region of Mykolaiv, told Al Jazeera.
Analysts are a bit more cautious.
On Wednesday in a televised speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced mobilize 300,000 men to “defend our motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories” of Ukraine.
But the real number of those mobilized is one million, Novaya Gazeta Europe, the exiled edition of Russia’s oldest independent daily, declare on Thursday, citing a top secret decree and a source in Putin’s administration. The Kremlin denied this report.
The partial mobilization after the surprise of Ukraine counterattack success in the eastern Kharkiv region was almost completely liberated from the Russian army earlier this month.
And Ukrainian forces are ready to counterattack in three more directions, observers say.
One was in the Luhansk region south of Kharkiv, where counter-attacks were concentrated along the strategic river Siverskyi Donets.
Fierce battles with heavy losses took place there in the summer after Moscow withdrew its forces from the four northern regions and the capital Kyiv.
The second direction was in the Southeast Zaporizhzhia area, around the town of Hulyaipole, from where the Ukrainians could penetrate deep into the Russian-occupied areas and divide them.
And the third is the area south of Kherson, an entrance to the annexed Crimean peninsula that was occupied in early March, possibly by treason of Ukrainian officials.
If the Ukrainian counter-offensive takes place in the coming days, Russia will not have time to train and deploy the newly deployed troops.
Russian forces “will have to use [the mobilised troops] Nikolay Mitrokhin, a Russia expert at Germany’s University of Bremen, told Al Jazeera.
The Russians will have to replenish their battalions which are suffering from a “huge deficit” in manpower due to heavy, bad losses over the past six months, he said.
“If by mid-October the Ukrainian forces are able to break through the front lines in at least two directions and advance at least 50 kilometers (30 miles), they will deal a heavy blow to the Russian forces to repel the offensive. move,” said Mitrokhin.
Therefore, the inevitable loss of armored vehicles and artillery will greatly hinder the restoration of Russian military strength in the occupied areas, he said.
But without the successful breakthrough of Ukraine, the Russians were able to restore the combat readiness of many front-line units.
“It doesn’t mean they will be ready to attack, but they can hold the front line,” Mitrokhin said.
‘We will face attacks’: Separatists
Pro-Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine are far from optimistic about the lurking Ukrainian counterattack.
“We will face attacks from all sides and their goal will be to unbalance and divide us,” said Aleksandr Khodakovsky, commander of the Eastern Battalion of pro-Russian separatists. in the southeastern region of Donetsk, said on Telegram on Thursday.
“We are not dynamic, we act on inertia and much of what we say is often at odds with what we do,” he said, referring to proud statements from the Kremlin and political leaders. separatist leaders on the “liberation” of Ukraine.
Although Putin’s claims of “partial mobilization” made front-page news around the world, Russia has promoted the recruitment, according to human rights groups, opposition figures and the media.
New recruits, mostly juvenile conscripts, were pressured to sign up for frontline service.
Older men with previous military experience were lured with promises of high salaries and hefty compensation in the event of their death.
Thousands of prisoners were recruited from prisons across Russia to participate Wagner Private Army led by tycoon Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef”.
Lieutenant General Ihor Romanenko, former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told Al Jazeera: “They have carried out partial mobilization and only legalized it, have more authority to do it.
But certainly the mobilization will lead to a logistical and financial quagmire.
“300,000 people will have to be equipped and supplied somehow, and that is questionable,” he said.
And the quality of the recruits will fall far short of the 170,000 experienced servicemen Moscow used to invade Ukraine in February, after a year of intense training and team building.
Therefore, the Kremlin will use the classic model of large-scale attacks involving huge numbers of troops – and huge losses.
This was the tactic that Soviet leader Josef Stalin used against the Nazis and their allies during the Second World War. It resulted in the highest loss of military personnel and population in history – 27 million people.
“They will use the old Russian method of using the principle of aggregation, using numbers [of servicemen]because quality matters,” said Romanenko.
Ukraine will have to compensate for the increase in numbers by increasing the speed of its counter-attack, launching pre-emptive strikes along the 2,700 km (1,677 mi) front line, especially the active combat line. 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) long, he said. .
Romanenko said successful counter-attacks similar to those in Kharkiv could even destabilize Russia and overthrow Putin’s government.
“If there are a few [counteroffensives]quantity will become quality and start a domino effect that will destroy Putin and all his cliques,” he said.
Airplanes and foreigners
Putin’s statement created panic among Russian men, they rushed to buy plane tickets, flying prices.
Their hasty flight continued exodus among the hundreds of thousands of middle-class Russians that followed the war that began in February.
Many Russian families who can afford to relocate abroad have protected their sons.
“We’re not going back, I’m not risking their lives,” the mother of two boys, 17 and 21, who moved to Montenegro in July, told Al Jazeera. “They’d rather be poor and live here than the heroes who died back home.”
In addition to mobilizing Russian citizens, the Kremlin also seeks to recruit foreigners with promises of Russian citizenship, the holy grail of millions of labor migrants from former Soviet republics.
The move is mainly aimed at citizens of the former Soviet Union in Central Asia, the largest group of labor migrants who suffer from corrupt police and bureaucratic problems that can be solved when they hold colored Russian passports. Red.
Heavily influenced by the Kremlin and their parents’ nostalgia for the Soviet era, some are willing to volunteer.
In early August, Jahongir Jalolov, a leader of the Uzbek community in the Urals mountains of Perm, came up with the idea of forming a battalion of pro-Russian Uzbeks.
“We live and work in Russia. Not only do we need that, we have to justify the bread we are eating,” he said as he stood next to the Russian flag and addressed the dozens of Uzbeks who welcomed his speech with applause. .
Following Putin’s statement of encouragement, notable Uzbeks began an online campaign urging their compatriots not to recruit and reminding them of how criminals can be persecuted at home for having become a “mercenary”.
Timur Numanov, a blogger in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, told Al Jazeera: “Hearing about the ‘white tsar,’ I realized that Uzbeks have all the opportunities to engage in this suicide war in a way legal.
“Today, there must be an appeal… urging the authorities to condemn the alliance treaties between Russia and Uzbekistan because of [Russian] he said.