I am sure Adam will cover this in far greater detail with much more insight than I have to offer, but Putin has declared a partial mobilization:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia accelerated his war effort in Ukraine on Wednesday, announcing a new campaign that would call up roughly 300,000 reservists to the military while also directly challenging the West over its support for Ukraine with a veiled threat of using nuclear weapons.
In a rare videotaped address to the nation, Mr. Putin stopped short of declaring a full, national draft but instead called for a “partial mobilization” of people with military experience. Though Moscow’s troops have recently suffered humiliating losses on the battlefield, he said that Russia’s goals in Ukraine had not changed and that the move was “necessary and urgent” because the West had “crossed all lines” by providing sophisticated weapons to Ukraine.
The speech was an apparent attempt to reassert his authority over an increasingly chaotic war that has undermined his leadership both at home and on the global stage. It also escalated Russia’s tense showdown with Western nations that have bolstered Ukraine with weapons, money and intelligence that have contributed to Ukraine’s recent successes in reclaiming swaths of territory in the northeast.
As with everything, I may be talking completely out of my ass, but this doesn’t strike me as something that is going to have any immediate or short term impact on the battlefield, or even medium term. Putin’s goons can be out on the street hunting down conscripts by this afternoon, but that doesn’t mean anything. It will take time to organize all of the new cannon fodder, sort them from those who are fit to serve (if they are even going to bother), train them, equip them, then send them to units. That takes time. A lot of time. One of the reasons the American military was so amazing in WWII is because of the speed with which we were able to spin up massive armies of well trained, well equipped soldiers in such a short amount of time, and even then we need to keep in mind that the frame of reference for “quick” is measured in years. After Guadalcanal, the 1st Marine division spent basically a year in Melbourne Australia before being redeployed because it took that long to refit and re-equip and spin up forces to join them in the island hopping campaign. It took several years to build up the force that would eventually land at D-Day. Remember, Europe had been at war for 5-6 years before the first American set foot on Omaha beach.
So it will take time to get these troops in place. The second issue is to equip them, and the question is, with what? The Russians are a paper army- there are a few modern weapons platforms like the t90 tank, and similar items, but those go to the show units and are not in widespread deployment. Assuming they do try to spin up some units, what are they going to equip them with? Basically, Soviet era t-62’s, which don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell on the modern battlefield. Russia does not have the capability to spin up production of modern weapons, they don’t have the economic might, they don’t have the resources, and they don’t have the chips.
So where that puts them is this- they are going to have a bunch of poorly trained, probably unhealthy and unfit to serve (in America, only 25% of the population age meets current requirements to serve, and I assure you it is not better in Russia), unmotivated, and equipped in 60 year old tanks and carrying Mosin-Nagants. There still we be no NCO corps or any changes to the disastrous officer corps, and they are so drunk on their own kool-aid they still do not recognize their own weaknesses (it’s the fault of the west supplying weapons, not because they are incompetent fuckwits who are bad at war) that there will not be any.
So they are cannon fodder. In the short term, it will mean nothing on the battlefield. In the medium term, over the next 6 months to a year, it will mean nothing. And in a year, it will probably mean nothing. The largest impact will be in Russia, where news of what is going on will begin to break through over there, and once a bunch of babushkas stop getting phone calls from their kids in the Donbas, there will be political unrest. Putin’s dreams of restoring Soviet glory notwithstanding, the average Russian mom doesn’t want to re-enact human waves of their kids swarming unarmed across the Volga, picking up the weapon dropped by the man in front of them, advancing five yards, and getting killed. These guys are going to get sent through the woodchipper.
The only question is how many of them will have to die before Putin is deposed or falls out of a window.