03.11.22 War Review

The Kremlin Is Betting on Human Forces in the War, But With the Support of the Western Coalition Kyiv Will Be Able to Counteract It by Building up Technological Advantage and Mobility of Troops, Analysts Say

Having suffered heavy defeats in September and facing the threat of a collapsed front, the Kremlin has reconsidered the concept of a "special military operation". The successful mobilisation has helped to replenish the troops, and, according to some assumptions, the Kremlin expects to put under arms between 1 and 3 million men eventually. This is a severe challenge for the Ukrainian army. What can Ukraine oppose to the absolute advantage in human force? According to analysts, with the Western coalition's support, Kyiv can neutralize it and even continue its successful offensive. This can be achieved through technical advantage in armaments, the development of Ukrainian Armed Forces' mobility and logistical supply chains allowing the rapid deployment of troops to different sections of the stretched front, the destruction of critical Russian army supply railway junctions, as well as massive strikes along the front line to sow panic among the mobilised recruits. One way or another, the war is reaching a new level of scaling and, therefore, a new scale of expected casualties.

At the end of September, the Kremlin was forced to finally abandon the "special military operation" format and announced a "partial mobilisation". The official decree contains neither a specific target figure for mobilisation, nor a final date of the mobilisation campaign. The Russian Defense Ministry has officially declared that it plans to recruit only 300,000 reservists. Some media reported that a secret paragraph in the decree said that the mobilisation goal amounted to one million people. Analysts of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (RUSI), citing Ukrainian intelligence, claim that Russia plans to mobilise 1 to 3 million. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believes that the Kremlin will use conscripts in military operations in the spring.

One way or another, the Kremlin has overcome its fear of forced mobilisation and is creating increasingly stringent legal conditions for its buildup. This leaves Kyiv with the difficult choice of how to change the strategy to offset the enemy's number advantage and even continue successful counteroffensives without allowing Moscow to "freeze" the conflict, which is the Kremlin's primary goal at this stage.

To successfully cope with the new challenges arising from the mobilisation, Ukraine should, according to RUSI analysts, strive to achieve technological superiority on the battlefield with NATO countries' support. Such an advantage would allow to effectively target command and control points, air defense systems, electronic warfare, troop concentrations, and military logistics of the Russian army. RUSI experts believe effective point-blank strikes would compensate for the Kremlin's advantage in human resources.

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) believes Ukraine's possible response to Russian mobilisation should consist of several elements. The first one is a new military conscription of Ukrainian citizens — but unlike Russia, they should undergo complete and long-term training in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, and Poland. Second is the targeted strikes on railroad hubs and military depots, including those on Russian territory. Russian military logistics primarily depend on railroads. Russian military logistics primarily depend on railroads. ECFR experts believe Ukraine has the right and an opportunity to raise the stakes, especially since Kyiv has already carried out strikes on Russian territory several times and were left without any significant reaction from the media or Russian diplomats. However, to do so, Ukraine needs supplies of long-range artillery systems from the West. Three, it is to take advantage of the low combat spirit of mobilised Russian soldiers — with massive artillery strikes, the Ukrainian army can force these fighters to abandon their positions en masse and retreat. However, the Ukrainian army needs Western self-propelled artillery — PzH 2000, CAESAR, and M109A6 Paladin for this purpose. A four thing is an increase in the Ukrainian army's maneuverability, which would allow rapid redeployment of forces from one front sector to another. The mobility will enable the Ukrainian Armed Forces to quickly surround and push back Russian soldiers where the Russian army is low on supplies and has weaknesses in its defenses. According to experts, the Ukrainian army's maneuverability can be increased using either German Leopard 2 or American Abrams tanks.

The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) also believes that Ukraine's technical superiority in weaponry should be a vital element of the response to Russian mobilisation. However, in addition to supplying modern armaments, CEPA also suggests strengthening Ukraine's logistics network since success on the battlefield depends on prompt ammunition deliveries, troop transfers, and the movement of the reserves.

A well-developed logistics chain will allow the Ukrainian Armed Forces to achieve quantitative superiority in the critical sectors of the front line and firepower advantage. However, the West needs to assist Ukraine in strengthening logistical chains, which require financial and intellectual resources.

Notably, over the past eight months, the primary stake of the parties involved in the conflict has changed to the opposite. Initially, it was assumed that Russia's technical and firepower advantage was so great that the Ukrainian army might not resist it or would show little resistance, and a 150,000-strong army of contract soldiers would be enough to occupy a country with 44 million citizens. Now Russia has shifted to a strategy of mass mobilisation, but analysts believe that Ukraine, with the active assistance of the Western alliance, will be able to achieve such a technological and professional level of warfare that it will successfully confront a country with three times its population. One way or another, the conflict is reaching a new level of scaling and, therefore, a new scale of expected casualties.