EDF: No official confirmation of second wave of Russian mobilization

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Mobilized Russian soldiers undergooing training exercises.
Mobilized Russian soldiers undergooing training exercises. Source: SCANPIX/EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) have yet to receive confirmation that the second wave of mobilization in Russia is imminent. Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said if it happens, Estonia will not relax border restrictions for Russian men fleeing the callup.

This weekend, Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov said in a video address, that Russia would close its borders in a week's time to prevent Russian men from escaping the second wave of mobilization. In the video, Reznikov also said, that Russia would declare martial law and that Belarus would also close its borders.

Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Kyrylo Budanov, additionally said, that Moscow would impose strict border controls from January 5.

On Monday, Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) spokesperson Taavi Laasik said the EDF currently has no official confirmation either that a second wave of mobilization will definitely occur, or that Russia's borders will close.  

"However, the possibility [of that happening] always remains and cannot be ruled out. A second wave of mobilization may be organized, but it can be assumed that its quality would be even lower than the first one," said Laasik.

"At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that covert mobilization has been taking place in Russia on a continuous basis," Laasik explained, even though the Russian authorities have said, that the first wave of mobilization achieved its aims.

He said a second wave of Russian mobilization is not expected to have a direct impact on Estonia, as it would still be linked to the aggression in Ukraine.

"A lot depends, of course, on where the potentially mobilized [troops] will be concentrated and what they will do. If those who are mobilized go through a month or two of training and then move out, then in terms of the bigger picture, it doesn't affect us," he said.

Laasik added, that at present there had been no major changes in the activities of Russian units on the other side of the Estonian border.

"Training for the mobilized troops is being conducted in different units, and this has taken place in Pskov. The full-scale war that Russia started in Ukraine has had a significant negative impact on Russia's Western military districts and the country's armed forces in general - both in terms of manpower and equipment. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that Russia continues to possess sufficient military capabilities to threaten the security of the region," Laasik said.

Urmas Reinsalu said he had no information to either confirm or refute the Ukrainian defense minister's statement.

Speaking about the possibility of refugees arriving at the Estonian border in order to avoid mobilization in Russia, Reinsalu said that that would certainly not be an argument to apply for entry to Estonia.

"This general avoidance of mobilization is not a separate argument for us to allow people into the territory of the Republic of Estonia. I am certain, that our border police have also taken appropriate measures with regard to illegal border crossings," Reinsalu said.

Defense expert and MP Leo Kunnas (EKRE) said Russia may keep new conscripts in training and mobilize another 150,000 people in the spring, increasing capacity to 300,000 by spring.

Kalev Stoicescu, a researcher at the International Center for Defense Studies (ICDS), said Putin wants to avoid another public mobilization.

"It would mean that the first one was insufficient or failed. And if new forces are now being mobilized throughout Russia, it will be done covertly," he said.

Asked Monday's "Aktuaane kaamera" if Russia or Ukraine will launch a major offensive. The experts said both are likely to do so.

"We can certainly expect a larger Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring or early summer. We can be more or less sure of that. It is not possible to predict more precisely whether the Ukrainian side will launch an offensive even in the winter after the ground freezes," said Kunnas.

Stoicescu said: "Putin will definitely make another attempt to take the initiative. Russia is probably also preparing for an offensive with this mobilization. Most likely in the Donetsk region, in order to achieve the goal that was originally set - to unite the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk with Russia."

This article was updated to add comments from Kalev Stoicescu and Leo Kunnas.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Vahur Lauri, Michael Cole, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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