Defense league chief: Most mobilized unable to act as units

Brig. Gen. Riho Ühtegi on
Brig. Gen. Riho Ühtegi on "Ukraina stuudio". Source: ERR

Of the hundreds of thousands of men being mobilized in Russia, most will not be able to act as coherent units as that would require more thorough military training, Commander of the Estonian Defense League, Brig. Gen. Riho Ühtegi said.

"The Kremlin's decision to mobilize 300,000 reservists means having 300 men per one kilometer of the front," Ühtegi said on ETV's "Ukraine stuudio" talk show on Sunday.

Until now, Russia has had half the force fighting in Ukraine, while its mobilization reserve is far greater still. Ühtegi said that as Russia has two million reservists in all, it could manage to mobilize 300,000.

"We will probably see some rather interesting things in the next weeks and months. I believe that we will see no more of Ratnik (infantry combat system), or modern equipment every soldier should have. Instead, we can see a lot of the men wearing World War II equipment," he said.

The general added that social media images of rusty machinery, firearms and helmets need to be taken with a grain of salt – what they're pulling from warehouses today is not in the best of shape, while a little rust does not render an assault rifle unusable.

The Defense League chief said that the men Russia is mobilizing will reach the front sooner than in months as the Russian system differs from Estonia's and can churn out reservists with very little basic training.

"What this means for Ukraine is that this mass reaching the front, no matter how well or poorly they fight, will halt the progress [of Ukrainians], more so as winter is coming and the weather changing. It is quite doubtful Ukraine can mage major gains in the coming months," he said.

Ühtegi said that most of those mobilized will not be able to work as units since that would require thorough training for which Russia lacks resources. Ukraine has the advantage of regularly training its soldiers.

Threat level unchanged for Estonia

Additional training in the Pskov contingent would not increase the threat level for Estonia.

"Certainly not. We are talking about a stop-gap force that will largely be sent to the front in Ukraine, and even if someone is left behind in the region, it will not be anything beyond what we've always seen. So, it should not entail any additional risk for us," Ühtegi assured.

Commenting on men leaving Russia in fear of being drafted and ongoing protests, the general said that these are isolated voices. Things would be better if the entire nation understood what is being done to those men. Some people leaving will not stop Russia from mobilizing 300,000 troops.

He added that Russia did the smart thing by declaring a partial and not a full mobilization. The former is easier to carry out and leaves wiggle room. That said, Vladimir Putin cannot be pleased that he has been forced to go back on his word of there being no mobilization.

Ühtegi said that neither side is making gains at the front today. Ukraine has had some success in the Kharkiv region, while the Russians have gotten nowhere in the Donbas.

"Kherson could be where the recently more active Ukrainian side could attempt a new offensive. It is important to maintain the initiative. Ukraine has it today that gives it an advantage, the chance to use troops in concentrated sectors instead of just maintaining the front," the Defense League commander remarked.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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