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Putin could be ready to announce a second mobilization campaign

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses as he delivers a New Year’s address to the nation at the Southern Military District headquarters in Rostov-on-Don on December 31, 2022.

Mikhail Klimentiev | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be ready to announce another round of mobilization as Russia seeks to bolster its armed forces in Ukraine, analysts say.

“Putin could announce a second wave of mobilization to expand his army in the coming days, possibly as early as January 18,” analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said on Tuesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced on Tuesday that Putin would deliver a speech in his hometown of St. Petersburg on Wednesday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Soviet forces breaking the Nazi siege of Leningrad. This could be an appropriate date to announce such a mobilization, observers noted.

“Putin likes to use symbolic dates to address the Russian people, and some pro-war Russian bloggers noted that he would take this opportunity to declare mobilization or war with Ukraine,” the ISW said. said in their daily analysis of the war in Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly insisted that it will not embark on a second wave of mobilization, following a first partial conscription of military reservists which mobilized 300,000 men last September. This decision caused consternation in Russia and prompted many candidates for conscription to flee the country.

Fears of another potential mobilization grew with the onset of winter. Putin said in December he saw no need for a second draft, noting that half of the men called up had already been deployed to Ukraine, while the rest were in training centers.

“Under these conditions, talking about any additional mobilization measures simply does not make sense,” he said at the time.

Last Friday, intelligence officials from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said they believed preparations for a second wave of mobilization were underway, suspecting Russia was targeting an army of two million.

“Ukrainian military intelligence does not rule out that the Russian leadership will announce a new wave of mobilization in the coming days,” intelligence officials said in a statement, adding that an additional 500,000 Russians would be called up in order to “create strategic reserves “. “

“Preparations for the announcement of the next wave of mobilization in Russia are already actively underway. At the legislative level, changes are being made to the laws of the Russian Federation regulating mobilization. The active formation of training centers is also underway,” intelligence officials said. added.

The army is about to expand

Over the winter, the war in Ukraine has looked like an attrition, especially in eastern Ukraine where fighting has intensified around Bakhmut – the next key Russian target after hostilities against Soledar. near.

The daily casualties of Ukrainian and Russian forces are difficult to determine independently.

Both sides are expected to renew their counteroffensives in the spring, fueling expectations that Russia will call in more manpower.

A Ukrainian tank drives on a road near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region on December 2, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Anatoly Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

Moscow has made no secret of its intention to expand its forces in the coming years. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu presented proposals in December to increase military personnel to 1.5 million by 2026 from the current 1.1 million.

On Tuesday, Shoigu outlined more comprehensive plans to reform and restructure the military over the next few years, saying “only by strengthening key structural elements of the armed forces is it possible to ensure military security of the state and to protect new entities”. and critical facilities in the Russian Federation,” Reuters reported.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said later on Tuesday that the changes were necessary because of the “proxy war” the West is waging against Russia in Ukraine.

Proxy engagement, he said, “includes elements of indirect participation in hostilities, and elements of economic, financial, legal warfare, going beyond the legal realm, etc.”

“The security of our country must be ensured unconditionally, and in this case the Ministry of Defense fulfills its role,” Peskov said, in comments translated by NBC.

Peskov rejected the idea of ​​another mobilization, adding that “the subject is constantly artificially activated both from abroad and from within the country. I always suggest that you remember all the time the relevant statements of the President Putin about it”.

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