Two scenarios of mobilisation in the Russian Federation

September 22, 2022

Putin's decision on partial mobilisation became another evidence of serious manning problems faced by the Russian army

It means that all previous and alternative approaches, such as active involvement of private military companies, formation of local volunteer battalions, up to the recruitment of convicts in Russia — all this has shown that the problem cannot be solved even partially.

Therefore, they had to take such a decision, which, in principle, was very actively discussed in Russian communities — both pro-Kremlin and anti-war ones. All the activists said that this decision could be counterproductive, despite the fact that certain forces strongly encouraged the Kremlin to do so.

Now that this happened, in my opinion, the following scenarios may take place.

Our calculations that the Russians will finally begin to actively resist mobilisation will either come true, or not.

If our calculations turn out to be wrong, and the Russians go like a flock of sheep to the slaughter (after all, they will gather those 300,000, not immediately though, but there will be tens of thousands), two options are also possible. They will either be thrown into battle immediately, as those mobilised in the temporarily occupied territories, like cannon fodder, or they will be given at least a month or two for training, and then, more or less equipped, trained units will be sent to compensate for the losses or create reserves.

Despite the low quality, there will still be a large number of new fighters

That is, if the second approach is implemented, it should be considered a serious threat that will appear in a month or two for Ukraine on the front line.

Despite the low quality, there will still be a large number of new fighters.

That is, it gives a signal to Ukraine that if the second unfavourable option is implemented, we have a month or two to advance as far as possible and to meet these reserves, at they arrive, on a shorter front than now.

Regarding the availability of junior commanders who will lead this "flock of sheep": if forced mobilisation is used, the Russian enlistment officers may forcibly recruit commanders who were transferred into the reserve not long ago — several months or years. That is, they are already half-finished commanders. If they did not want to go voluntarily, now they will be taken forcibly. The problem is partially solved, but, again, partially.

Regarding weapons.

The reserves that were available in Russia have been exhausted, and the industry’s capacity or the ability to purchase weapons from other countries is also limited. Therefore, even if the problem of command and commanders is partially resolved, mobilisation of factories to produce many times more products is unlikely to succeed that fast.


Oleksiy Melnyk

Co-Director, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes, Coordinator of International Projects

Born in 1962 in Khmelnytsty Rgn


Royal College of Defence Studies, London, UK (2007)

Air Field Operations Officer School, Biloxy, MS, US (2001)

Squadron Officer School, Montgomery, AL, US (1994)

Defence Language Institute, San Antonio, TX, US (1994)

Chernihiv Higher Military Air Force Academy, Ukraine (1984)


1980 – 2001 — Air Force Active Service (Cadet, Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, Squadron Commander, Deputy Air Force Base Commander, Participant of two UN peacekeeping operations, Lt.Colonel (Ret)

2001 – 2004 — Razumkov Centre

2004 – 2005 — State Company Ukroboronservice

2005 – 2008 — Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Head Organisational and Analytical Division — First Assistant to Minister of Defence

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