ICDS head: Talk of Russian army enlargement an information operation
Commander of the EDF Headquarters Col. Eero Rebo and head of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) Indrek Kannik said on the ETV "Ukraina stuudio" talk show that they hold unlikely Russia's ability to grow its armed forces in the volume suggested by Vladimir Putin last week.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country's armed forces to be expanded to 2,039,758 personnel.
"It is an information operation. The Russian Army has not been able to man its current ranks in recent decades. In a situation where they're in the middle of a war and struggling to recruit, it is purely a (mis)information operation to demonstrate that they are on the right path and have things under control," Kannik said.
Talking about the 3rd Army Corps arriving on the front line in Ukraine, Col. Rebo said it probably constitutes an attempt to introduce at least some measure of new military capacity. "I believe the Russians made a mistake, looking at it from the Ukrainian point of view. It can only bring them temporary success. Considering the Russian side's losses over the last six months, the army corps won't even make a dent," he said.
Kannik added that reinforcement will be the main purpose. "The level of preparedness of the 3rd Army Corps remains questionable. There was initially talk of 20,000 men, while recent reports suggest it is closer to 15,000. My guess is that they haven't even managed to recruit that many. They were supposed to join the battle in late August, while that has now arrived. Perhaps the first fresh troops will see battle these days, while I rather believe they will be sent there in stages," Kannik suggested.
Col. Eero Rebo said that the problem is not so much with general ranks but unit formation. "Where to find lieutenants, captains to command companies? Where to get communications specialists and support? Russia has lacked this capacity in forming new units."
Stalemate at hand
Rebo said that the war in Ukraine finds itself in a stalemate where Russia lacks strength to attack, while Ukraine is not yet ready for a counteroffensive.
"From Ukraine's point of view, a successful counteroffensive requires both personnel and every available resource. The hammer stroke would have to land hard," he said.
Kannik said that Russia's offensive has come to a halt on almost all fronts.
"I believe that for the first time we can say, regarding the last ten days or so, that Russia is not making progress on any front. Their latest attempts were made near Bakhmut and the village of Pisky near the Donetsk airport. Russia has run out of strength to make gains," Kannik said.
Rebo remarked that Russia's non-combat losses also need to be taken into account.
"Russian tanks built in the 1980s are starting to fall apart. And looking at the personnel they have there, they've learned a thing or two about saving their own skin by now," Rebo suggested.
Kannik suggested the the Russian armed forces have not offered soldiers the possibility of rotation.
"Every war requires troops to be rotated regularly, which is something Russia cannot afford to do. They are having major logistical problems on the southern front, especially as the Ukrainians have blown up the railroad near Kherson. It is very difficult to bring in heavy weapons on trucks, whereas a tank or IFV that has had to cover long distances under its own steam will be that much worse for wear come battle," the ICDS director offered.
Talking about the possibility of a nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia plant, Kannik said that Russia's escalation will not go that far yet.
"It would hold rather unpredictable consequences for their units based at the plant. The situation is not as desperate as to warrant a nuclear escalation yet. However, in the end, the possibility exists that Russia will do something at the Zaporizhzhia plant as opposed to using a nuclear weapon. Especially should they be forced out of southern Ukraine," he said.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski