“Mobilized Russians are immediately taken to the front—without any preparation,” human rights group Perviy Otdel warned in a Telegram post. “We were officially told there would be no training before we are sent to the war zone,” one mobilized Russian said in a video shared by Perviy Otdel.
Basic combat training for American troops, by comparison, lasts approximately ten weeks, according to the U.S. army.
It’s not clear how, or if, Russia plans to arm and equip the new influx of manpower. Russian forces are already struggling with mounting equipment losses in Ukraine, including 1,190 tanks, since the beginning of the war, according to Oryx, a Dutch open source intelligence analysis group. By the Ukrainian military’s count, that number is closer to 2,312 tank losses, as well as 4,889 lost armored vehicles, 331 lost Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, and 224 lost helicopters, according to statistics shared Wednesday. Adding to that, Russia’s defense industry is struggling to replace equipment losses due to sanctions.
The quick deployment of Russian conscripts without training and adequate equipment is the latest sign of Russia’s slipshod approach to the war in Ukraine. Since the outset of the war, Russian troops have been encountering troubles with their equipment, training, morale, and preparation for conflict.
Their logistics and fueling preparation were so lacking in the early days of the war that the Russian military failed to capture Kyiv, the capital—one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s key objectives in invading Ukraine in the first place.
Moscow announced the “partial mobilization” of 300,000 reservists last week after a series of blows to the Russian war effort in Ukraine—Ukrainian forces launched several counteroffensives in Ukraine that pushed Russian forces into retreat.
The mounting losses have given rise to a Putin under pressure and desperate—one willing to try withstanding domestic dissent, protests against the war, and citizens’ exodus of the country. But the haphazard deployment and lack of training the Kremlin has settled on for Russian conscripts will almost certainly continue the trend of failures, and could contribute to a dip in morale among Russian fighting groups, as well as casualties.
Technically, the mobilization is supposed to be reserved for those with some military experience, but fears are circulating that the Russian government may slash requirements in due time.
In an attempt to evade mobilization, Russians have been fleeing the country in recent days in large flocks. The exodus has been so massive that Russian authorities in North Ossetia, near the country of Georgia, have begun limiting car travel to Georgia as of Wednesday, according to The Moscow Times. Finland’s border authorities have proposed building a fence to prevent a mass-scale influx of Russians as they flee the mobilization. Over 100,000 fled to Georgia, Finland, and Kazakhstan in recent hours.
The disarray extends to the Kremlin itself. Rumors that Russian authorities will close the border to men of military age are circulating, but the Kremlin has not yet made a decision on the matter. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov suggested Tuesday that Russian authorities can’t keep track of how many people have been leaving the country since the mobilization announcement. Russian authorities set up mobile enlistment stations on the Georgia border in an attempt to catch those fleeing the country, the BBC reported.
Although the war effort is flagging, Putin still seems intent on sending his country’s citizens to war and trying to destroy Ukraine.
Russia is working to put up a more “substantive” defense and is working to advance near Bakhmut, according to a British intelligence brief published Wednesday. Russia’s main war effort now is focused on the Donbas, according to a Tuesday U.S. Defense Department briefing.
“We continue to see, particularly in the Donbas region, the Russians' attempt to conduct offensive operations in that area, with Ukraine successfully holding the line,” Pentagon Press Secretary Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday.
Russia is leaning on operatives from Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary organization, to fight in the Donbas, as well, Ryder said.
But Putin’s threats have escalated from sending more troops to nuclear saber-rattling in recent days. The Russian president suggested last week that the West was provoking Russia in a way that might force them to resort to nuclear weapons. Just Wednesday, Peskov said the Kremlin views the United States’ role as getting closer and closer to being a party to the conflict.
“The U.S. side is getting involved in this conflict ever more deeply,” Peskov said.
As of Tuesday, the Defense Department hasn’t seen any evidence from Russia that would cause the United States to “adjust” its nuclear posture.