Russia to mobilize up to 500,000 for major spring offensive -Ukraine

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Vadym Skibitskyi said that around January 15 conscription would begin and that it would take Russian forces around two months to organize its formations.

 Russian reservists recruited during the partial mobilisation of troops attend a ceremony before departing to the zone of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in the Rostov region, Russia October 31, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/SERGEY PIVOVAROV)
Russian reservists recruited during the partial mobilisation of troops attend a ceremony before departing to the zone of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in the Rostov region, Russia October 31, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SERGEY PIVOVAROV)

The Kremlin will mobilize up to 500,000 Russians for a spring offensive, Ukrainian Defense Ministry representatives predicted on Friday.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Vadym Skibitskyi told The Guardian that it was expected that around January 15 conscription would begin and that it would take Russian forces around two months to organize its formations.

While Skibitskyi said the mobilization could include 300,000 on the lower end, both he and Ukrainian intelligence representative Andriy Chernyak said that up to 500,000 people could be mobilized.

Chernyak told T-online that such a large mobilization would mean that this round of conscription would impact large Russian cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The Ukrainian National Resistance Center said on Friday that people in the disputed Donetsk region would also be mobilized and that the restrictions on conscripting civil servants would be removed.

 Reservists drafted during the partial mobilisation attend a ceremony before departure for military bases, in Sevastopol, Crimea September 27, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/ALEXEY PAVLISHAK) Reservists drafted during the partial mobilisation attend a ceremony before departure for military bases, in Sevastopol, Crimea September 27, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/ALEXEY PAVLISHAK)

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, around 300,000 people were mobilized following Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement "partial mobilization" in late September.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that a major "aggression" was planned for the coming months, and his office head Andriy Yermak met with US representatives on Friday that emphasized Russia's "concentrating groups for offensive actions."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura K. Cooper expressed caution on the degree of concern a potential spring offensive could bring at a Friday briefing.

"I think you will see Russian forces trying to advance, you know, trying to mobilize what they can."

Laura Cooper

"I think you will see Russian forces trying to advance, you know, trying to mobilize what they can," said Cooper. "In the case of what we've seen in, in Bakhmut with Wagner forces, in many cases, it's conscripted, you know, convicts on the battlefield. So, I think you'll still see Russia trying to employ this tactic of just sending wave upon wave of forces to try to gain what ended up being very marginal territorial gains."

Cooper said that Russia was still facing problems of training and morale among its new conscripts. During the first mobilization, multiple reports had surfaced of new recruits receiving little training and equipment before being sent to the frontlines

Skibitskyi told The Guardian that Russian success depended on how well-equipped and trained the conscripts would be.

How has Russia's offensive in Ukraine been progressing?

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said on Friday that Russia had been on the offensive for months. He said that while Russian forces had dug in defensive lines for the winter, the Whitehouse had predicted that they would not sit idly but continue to engage with Ukrainian forces.

The UK Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Russia has bolstered defensive locations in recent weeks "suggests commanders are highly likely pre-occupied with the potential for major Ukrainian offensive action in two sectors: either in northern Luhansk Oblast, or in Zaporizhzhia."

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig.-Gen. Pat Ryder said in the Friday Pentagon briefing that the Russians digging in providing an opportunity to train and reequip Ukrainian forces.

On Thursday, the US announced a $3 billion dollar defense package to Ukraine that included Bradley armored fighting vehicles, but Kirby said on Friday that the announcement of the package had nothing to do with an expected offensive.

Skibitskyi told the Guardian that Ukraine depended on the incoming donated munitions and gear to prepare for the offensive.

"If Russia loses this time, then Putin will collapse," said Skibitskyi.