New Russian law suggests Putin is thinking about full mobilization against Ukraine after all

Source: Hot Air

Last week as Russian TV presenters were starting to admit to themselves and their viewers that the country had suffered a significant loss in Ukraine, there was almost immediately a call for “full mobilization” in order to respond to that loss. At the time, the Kremlin said that no one was considering such a thing. But as of today it appears they were either lying last week or Putin changed his mind.

At plenary session held on Sept. 20, the Russian State Duma adopted amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in the second and third readings. They proposed to increase liability for certain crimes against military service. New concepts have been introduced into the Criminal Code: “voluntary surrender,” “looting,” “mobilization,” “martial law” and “wartime.” The decision was taken unanimously. The parliamentary session was broadcast on the website of the Russian State Duma.

Specifically, in the article on aggravating circumstances, the deputies replaced the words “in conditions of armed conflict or hostilities” with “during the period of mobilization or martial law, in wartime or conditions of armed conflict or hostilities.”

Articles on looting and voluntary surrender were added to the Criminal Code. For surrender, one faces three to ten years in prison if there are no signs of treason. For looting – up to 15 years in prison.

What does this mean exactly? Well, it seems pretty clear that Russia is laying the groundwork for full mobilization after all. Full mobilization would mean dropping the conceit that the invasion of Ukraine is just a “special military operation” and instead declaring war. But war can’t be declared without a reason. Annexing parts or eastern Ukraine, as Ed wrote about earlier today, could provide Russia with the needed excuse.

Mobilization, or ‘mobilizatsiya’ in Russian, is a relatively well-defined set of authorities that are ostensibly regulated by Russian law. A key aspect of the legal parameters is the need for Russia to be in a formal state of war for mobilization to be declared, hence the need for a pretext given the current unprovoked war on Ukraine. Officially declaring occupied areas to be Russian territory would allow the Kremlin to claim, regardless of the facts, that its soil is under attack from Ukrainian forces. Currently, the Russian government describes what it is carrying out in Ukraine as a “special military operation.”…

One of the most immediate impacts of a formal mobilization is on Russia’s conscript reserves. Other individuals, including those with specialized skills, such as doctors, as well as discharged military personnel, between the ages of 27 and 60 could also be conscripted into the armed forces. Those subject to conscription or potential conscription could face serious restrictions on their movements, including their ability to leave the country.

So Russia needs more bodies to send to Ukraine but to do that it needs to declare war. And to declare war it needs a legitimate reason such as Russian territory being under attack. And to create that justification, Russia plans to annex portions of Ukraine so it can then say those now-Russian areas are under attack.

A previous article I read suggested there were as many as 2 million discharged military personnel who could be forced back into service under full mobilization. Putin is pretty obviously thinking a second wave of another 100,000 or 200,000 men will make the difference.

But Putin also likely knows that there’s not much appetite for his war on Ukraine outside of the Kremlin-run TV studios. Certainly a bunch of older men who have left the military aren’t eager to go back to fight a war the country is currently losing. So before he gets to that phase, Putin is creating this new law that targets “desertion, damage to military property and insubordination.”  In other words, conscripts will either fight the enemy they are conscripted to fight or they will spend many years in a Russian prison. It also makes surrendering a crime so anyone who thinks about surrendering immediately and sitting out the war in a POW camp can expect to face prosecution once the war is over.

A lot of the things Putin does are intended to strengthen his hand either domestically or with foreign adversaries. I guess we’ll see if he actually follows through with this plan. Legally I guess there’s nothing to stop him but you have to imagine that this is going to increase the public resistance to his war pretty dramatically and potentially create even more tension with his remaining allies who are already keeping his war at arm’s length. I also have to wonder what military equipment he’s going to be able to provide to all of these new soldiers. There are probably plenty of small arms available but reports suggest his stock of high-tech equipment is already running low and can’t be easily replaced because it relies on US made chips.