Putin forced into 'mobilisation by stealth' says Chris Newton
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As the war drags on in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Russian President Vladimir Putin is suffering heavy military losses in Ukraine. According to the UK’s Defence Ministry, the Russian’s army combat power has dropped by a third since the start of the invasion, with up to 15,000 deaths by late May, due to “a combination of poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility and a (faulty) command approach.” Amid that rising death toll, military historian Chris Newton says Putin can only resort to “mobilisation by stealth” to avoid losing the support of up to 80 percent of Russians who, according to polls, back the war in Ukraine.
Speaking to GB News, Mr Newton said: “At the moment, the war has quite a bit of support although it has been going down a bit.
“But you’re right that there could be some public concerns. And it may explain why Putin for example on 9 May did not announce general mobilisation in the sense that it is very politically difficult.
“And that’s why he’s trying to do mobilisation by stealth. So, yeah you’re potentially onto something.”
Whether he agreed Russia had only made small gains and lost some territory, he said: “Yes. Essentially, yes. I think the assessment is broadly correct.
“In terms of the early stage of the war, Russia fouled in its regime-change operation. It retreated from northeast Ukraine. It degraded its armed forces in the process. And it managed to annihilate countries as well: Sweden, and Finland in the process of joining NATO.
“And so, in that sense, yes. And the gains that it’s making at the moment in terms of the operations in the Donbas are very small at the moment – very tiny gains.
“However, we are only three and half months into this war. You know, things could change. Things can happen.”
Mr Newton said: “And there are still strategic cards that Russia can play in terms of its disrupting the global energy and food supplies. It is learning how to fight the war.
“It is becoming a bit more effective but as we said, it’s mounted limited gains. But it is playing to its strengths now. it is using its artillery effectively.”
On the losses of troops, he said: “They have really sort of shunned off forces in the various operations. And they’re scrambling to get new forces. They put them in sort of units together.
Mr Netwon added: “And Putin has a real decision to make over the summer in terms of mobilisation as you go for general mobilisation. Or can he do it by stealth?
“So, yes, Russia is kind of experiencing major problems in terms of force generation.”
Though Russian forces have made significant gains amid fierce fighting in the Donbas region, soldiers have reportedly complained about difficult conditions and long-term duties at the war front that leads to exhaustion.
The low morale comes as the Kremlin reportedly scrambles to mobilise new troops.
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In a new analysis entitled ‘Not built for purpose, the Russian military’s ill-fated force design’, Michael Kofman and Rob Lee pinpoint the multiple reasons for the flawed Russian military capabilities.
“The Russian military is well suited to short, high-intensity campaigns defined by a heavy use of artillery,” wrote Michael Kofman and Rob Lee.
They added: “By contrast, it is poorly designed for a sustained occupation, or a grinding war of attrition, that would require a large share of Russia’s ground forces, which is exactly the conflict it has found itself in.
“The Russian military doesn’t have the numbers available to easily adjust or to rotate forces if a substantial amount of combat power gets tied down in a war.”
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