Russia: Suffering notable military shortages in the seventh month of its invasion of Ukraine
Russian army is experiencing major shortages in manpower and military equipment. Moscow is trying to overcome these deficiencies by introducing laws resembling military mobilization and recruiting criminals, even homeless people.
Surrounded by sanctions, Russia is also searching for sellers of military equipment and so far, it has managed to only buy military supplies from pariah states.
Russia’s manpower shortage
On Tuesday, Russia’s lower house the State Duma made amendments to the Criminal Code where they introduced “mobilization period”, “martial law” and “wartime” concepts.
Following Duma’s amendments, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial military mobilization in the country.
In a televised address to the nation, Putin said the decision was taken due to the stretched-out frontline, the constant shelling of Russian borderline areas by the Ukrainian military, and the attacks on “liberated” regions, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency. The combat line is now exceeding 1,000 kilometers, Putin said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said a total of 300,000 men - those with military service experience and a military specialty, would be called up for military service, TASS said in a separate report. There are almost 25 million such men in Russia, Shoigu said.
Partial mobilization in accordance with a presidential decree began on Wednesday an no date of its termination is set, TASS said.
The introduction of a general mobilization would be a big blow to Putin since it would imply that Russia was not able to fulfil the tasks declared at the beginning of its invasion, according to General Vadym Skibitskyi of the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence.
“It would mean that Putin’s so-called “special operation” has not achieved results, and a real war is being fought,” Skibitskyi told the Kyiv Post on Tuesday.
Russia has sent 85 percent of its fielded army to Ukraine, according to defence officials.
Depending on different estimates, 15,000 - 20,000 Russian soldiers have lost their lives in the war which would mean that Russia lost more soldiers than the Soviet Union lost during their ten-year long Afghanistan war.
Western officials said that Russia is also trying to decrease the manpower shortages with mercenaries from the Wagner Group, which is a private military force.
A US official, speaking to Reuters under anonymity said that Russia is compelling wounded soldiers to re-enter combat, hiring private security employees, paying bonuses to conscripts, and seeking to recruit service members and even convicted criminals.
Military enlist leaflets were also left in homeless persons’ shelters in St. Petersburg, Newsweek reported.
Drones from Tehran, artillery from Pyongyang
In late August, Russia bought military drones from Iran. While Iran announced it would not supply either side of the war with military equipment, the country said the drone deal made with Russia predated the start of the invasion.
Besides Russia’s deal with Iran, newly declassified American intelligence suggests that Russia is purchasing artillery ammunition from North Korea, which is a sign of the global sanctions restricting Russia’s supply chains.
Due to the sanctions and the export controls, Russia has to make deals with pariah states. Both Iran and North Korea are isolated from international commerce because of the US sanctions. This means that neither country has much to lose from making deals with Russia.
“The Kremlin should be alarmed that it has to buy anything at all from North Korea,” Mason Clark of the Institute for the Study of War said.
Russia’s need for computer chips
Russia is also experiencing a severe deficit in microchips since they lost more firepower than they previously anticipated. Ukraine is aware of how the tide of the war can turn if Russia gets high-tech chips, thus Kyiv is sending warnings worldwide to stop Russia from receiving the gadgetry since the producers are mostly in the US, Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Japan.
Diederik Cops, a senior researcher in arms exports and trade at the Flemish Peace Institute said that Russia is trying to smuggle the chips into the country and that export controls can fail to stop technology from reaching unwanted actors. He said once the chips leave the factories, it is very hard to know where they end up.
Washington imposed restrictions on sales of some computer chips to China and Russia since the goods sold for civilian use can end up in military use.
The Biden administration says that the control of the chips is very secure but some analysts disagree. Matthew Turpin, the US National Security director for China from 2018 to 2019 said there is absolutely no way to detect if China sends chips to Russia since they share a 4,300-kilometer land border.
The Russian Duma on Tuesday, also imposed a penalty of up to ten years in prison for voluntary surrender.