position on the front Ukrainian It is more complicated with the announcement of the mobilization of reservists before put it inpotential nuclear threat Referendum of annexing the disputed territories. The general Antonio Lee Jobewho participated in the missions United nations In Syria and Israel and under the auspices of Boy In Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan he was also Director of Operations for the NATO International Staff in Brussels, assessing the situation.
General, why did Putin announce the mobilization of 300,000 reserve soldiers? Is he involved in a war he cannot win?
I would say that the mobilization of reservists is important, but it is not the most important thing in Putin’s speech yesterday. More importantly, he declared to his Russian people that this was no longer a conflict between Ukraine and Russia, but a conflict between the two countries Russia And the whole world that we call “Western”, that is, the USA, NATO and the European Union.
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The mobilization of 300,000 reservists is the direct result of this change in perspective. Moreover, if the conflict continues, and I believe it will continue, This 300,000 will only be the first step. And also because mobilization, although there are reservists who left the service a few years ago, is not easy, unless there is always an ad hoc organization with periodic withdrawals, means, equipment and materials stored, etc. Its members meet regularly for training and this is not the case with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
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In the Russian case, as far as we know, the soldiers will have to return to the recruitment and training centers (some will not show up, others get sick, etc.), the units will be re-equipped and the units should be ready for action. Almost rebuilt from scratch. It is an activity that takes time if ministries are to have operational capabilities and not the kind of “Branklion Army” that Moscow cannot afford.
This is a painful procedure that says at least two things. First of all, the Kremlin now believes that the initial planning of the special operation did not sufficiently take into account the size and type of forces needed to achieve the goals at the time desired by the political leadership of Moscow. We do not know who is to blame: whether it was the military leaders who underestimated the need or did not highlight the difficulties to please the Kremlin, or if the political leader, as has often happened in history, silenced the military leaders, convinced that he alone was the “great strategist”. Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin gave us more than one example of this during World War II. However, whether the underestimation is the fault of the military or the political and intelligence establishment, it is clear that it is time in Moscow to make accusations.
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But also, now it is necessary to make the war weigh on the “Russian” citizens, which the Kremlin has always been hesitant about. From this point of view, Putin’s speech needed to visualize the danger of the entire West’s rebellion against Russia and invoke the pride of the Great Patriotic War. In fact, Moscow initially used Russian regular forces to a reduced extent, among other things, often sending units with conscription in Asian Russia. Therefore, the Kremlin combined regular units with irregular militias such as the Chechen “Wagner” and the Syrians specifically to avoid burdening the Russian citizens as well due to the need to preserve their interest. A choice that I suppose was imposed at the political level because, from a military point of view, it does not make sense. In fact, it involves difficulties in coordination, and fragmentation in the line of command because these militias do not recognize the authority of the normal chains of command but only the individual charisma of their leaders and their irreconcilable methods and tactics of recruitment. Above all, we know that these militias do not respect the law of armed conflict and indulge in crimes and atrocities as we have seen.
The men flee Russia for fear of being forced to fight and stage protests in the streets. Could the mobilization turn out to be the wrong move for Putin?
I would say it is too early to draw conclusions from the first hasty information we receive. It is clear that even if 10 people are stranded at the airport for trying to escape the call to arms, the news will get a lot of attention in the international press. Moreover, in the meantime, hundreds or thousands, if unwilling, may turn up on the call and not make the news. Regarding street demonstrations, we know what is happening in the big cities of European Russia where only our journalists and diplomats can inform us, but we have no idea what is happening in the rural areas and in the smaller cities that are less open to Western culture. Having said that, the mobilization itself with its repercussions not only on individuals but also on their families and the world of work, from which recollections are thrown, certainly does not help the Kremlin’s credibility.
Moreover, we cannot ignore that the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union on Russia have generated in many segments of the population the belief that “the West is angry with us Russians”. A belief that may have been rooted in Putin’s speech yesterday. The lack of a free Russian press in this regard does not help.
Regarding the risks to Putin’s popularity, I wouldn’t be overly optimistic. The military bureaucracy will be blamed, the Tsar will drop two heads and the people will believe him. During the first three years of World War II in Italy, how many Italians raised Mussolini by assigning blame to those around him for disastrous military campaigns?
Are Putin’s nuclear threats realistic and feasible?
They are tangible, of course. Russia has a diverse arsenal of not only nuclear, but also chemical and biological. Moreover, the United States has it too. Having them does not necessarily mean wanting to use them. It depends a lot on the room for maneuver to give Russia and the Russian regime in the event of their military defeat.
Personally, I don’t think it’s about using nuclear weapons, but getting away with putting an authoritarian regime in a corner is never a wise choice. Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, but if he had the atomic weapon available, do we think he wouldn’t have used it? It is the spirit of “Samson died with all the Philistines.” It is quite natural and understandable that Ukraine, on its territory and among its peoples there is a terrible and bloody civil war as well as a conventional war, is not ready to make concessions.
Less understandable is the hard-line position of the European Union and the United States.
Do you think that referendums to annex Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia will be held? Given the expected outcome, what will follow?
I think that referendums to annex Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia will be held, and the result will be to include Russia. Forget the regularity and turnout that would certainly be questionable.
Declaring it at any given time was certainly not a sign of strength and security, but, on the contrary, an admission of weakness and insecurity.
Moreover, Putin’s goal is in my opinion twofold. On the one hand, to say to the West “I don’t care if you admit the validity of the referendums or not, for us these lands are now Russian lands and we will use any means to defend them.” Moreover, any attack on this “new” Russian territory (partly under Ukrainian military control) would be considered an attack on the motherland of Russia, and this would also justify retaliation outside Ukraine, suggesting that such retaliation could limit the strike In an EU country or us. On the other hand, to strengthen the home front in memory of the Great Patriotic War. His constant references to the Ukrainian Nazis also fall into this perspective of calling on everyone to defend what in a few days could be for Moscow Russia in all respects.
However, let us remember that other than the easy enthusiasm that we have witnessed in the past few days, no serious peace process has been at hand. Today it is less so because it does not fit any of the three major players.
Ukraine, which has always had the “certainty” of turning parties, has not yet been agreed, which it was able to achieve thanks to the help it received mainly from the United States and the United Kingdom. Others are marginal offers of support.
It would not be acceptable to Russia in this temporary situation of apparent military inferiority unless there was “regime change” in Moscow, but the timing seems premature to me. Moreover, only Moscow is now more dependent on the human factor.
It is not in the United States’ interest to see the stalemate in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict curtail the Kremlin’s geopolitical ambitions.
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