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Russia’s New Move in Ukraine War: Partial Mobilization

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In the Russia-Ukraine War, which started on February 24, 2022, the Moscow administration could not achieve as many concrete successes as it had planned in the Kremlin, and at this point, it was seen that the Ukrainian Army attacked in Kherson in the south and Kharkiv in the north. It is also observed that the Russian Army has withdrawn from various regions in the face of the increasing influence of Ukraine, which is understood to have reached the offensive capacity as a result of the military and financial aids of the West. Therefore, Russia is faced with a very negative situation for itself, where things are not going well in the war that has been going on for seven months. In this context, the Moscow administration thinks that the “General Winter,” which has worked in its favor throughout history, may turn into a factor that will make it difficult this time. That’s why Russian President Vladimir Putin felt the need to take a preventive step.

As a reflection of this need, the leader of Russia announced that he had declared a “partial mobilization” with his statement on September 21, 2022.i “Citizens who are currently in reserve will be called up for military service, especially those who served in the Russian Army in the past,” Putin said in a statement that is related with the situation.ii In fact, the words of the Russian President reveal that the Moscow administration is facing a serious crisis in terms of the sustainability of the war in Ukraine. Because this statement clearly reveals the personnel needs of the Russian Army. As a matter of fact, after Putin, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also stated that 300,000 reserve soldiers would be called to duty, confirming this situation.iii

As it can be understood, the Moscow administration showed that the recent withdrawals in various regions in Ukraine with the decision of “partial mobilization” were implemented to gain time, and gave the message that Russia had any thought but to gain a victory that would present its own people as a victory in the Ukrainian War. But the issue is not limited to this. Because the real message given by Putin can be summarized as “If Russia loses, the whole world loses.”

In fact, the Moscow administration has been giving this message from time to time since the beginning of the war. Because the Kremlin has expressed its readiness to use nuclear weapons many times since the beginning of the war.iv Moreover, the war in Ukraine is not just about nuclear weapons; the fact that nuclear power plants can also be used as a weapon has increased the risks.

Accordingly, Moscow makes such moves is related to the Russian interpretation of the Russia-Ukraine War as the Russo-Western War in the main. Frankly, considering the support of Western states to Ukraine, it cannot be said that this is wrong understanding. The role of the Western military and financial aid to the Kyiv administration in Ukraine’s reaching the offensive capacity is undeniable.

At this point, Putin used the phrases that “The West is trying to destroy our country… The West is using nuclear blackmail against us… I am telling the West, we have many weapons to respond to.” This is not bluffing.”v in his assessment of the Russia-West War, during his “partial mobilization” statement, In fact, when the statements of the Russian leader are considered together with the warnings from the leaders of Kazakhstan, Belarus and Serbia vi and especially Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s assertion that a war with worldwide conflicts is approachingvii points to the possibility of a process in which the whole world will be the loser. As a matter of fact, on the occasion of Russia’s “partial mobilization” decision, to mobilize for the first time after the Second World War is also extremely important in terms of reflecting the seriousness of the issue.viii

On the other hand, it can be said that this step of Russia, which will escalate the war in Ukraine and the tension with the West, aims to deepen the energy crisis in Europe. As a matter of fact, it has been understood in a short time that Putin’s statements caused an increase in transaction prices in the energy markets.ix

As a result, Russia is uncomfortable with the attack of the Ukrainian Army in various regions and declared a “partial mobilization” on September 21, 2022, as if to show that the tactical withdrawal from the places where the Russian elements were withdrawn. This decision shows that the Moscow administration has no other thought than to achieve a result that can be described as a victory in Ukraine. In this context, with the decision of “partial mobilization”, Putin gave the message that a war lost by Russia would evolve into a process in which the whole world would lose. Frankly, the fact that the Moscow administration took a decision to mobilize for the first time after the Second World War clearly reveals the seriousness of the issue. Because Russia has shown that the problems it encounters on the field will also have a cost to the West, and Putin emphasized that he is not bluffing on this issue. Of course, this menace is originated from the Kremlin’s interpretation of the war as a Russia-West struggle due to the support Ukraine receives from the West.


i “Putin Declares ‘Partial’ Mobilization Amid Ukraine Losses, Warns West of Nuclear Response”, The Moskow Times, https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/09/21/putin-declares-partial-mobilization-amid-ukraine-losses-warns-west-of-nuclear-response-a78850, (Date of Accession: 21.09.2022).

ii Ibid.

iii Ibid.

iv Şafak Oğuz, “Russia-Ukraine War and the Growing Nuclear Risks”, ANKASAM, https://www.ankasam.org/russia-ukraine-war-and-the-growing-nuclear-risks/?lang=en, (Date of Accession: 21.09.2022).

v “Rusya Devlet Başkanı Putin, Kısmi Askeri Seferberlik İlan Etti”, Habertürk¸ https://www.haberturk.com/son-dakika-rusya-devlet-baskani-putin-kismi-askeri-seferberlik-ilan-etti-3522188, (Date of Accession: 21.09.2022).

vi Hüseyin Yeltin, “Ukrayna’daki Savaşın Kaybedeni Rusya mı Olacak?”, ANKASAM, https://www.ankasam.org/ukraynadaki-savasin-kaybedeni-rusya-mi-olacak/, (Date of Accession: 21.09.2022).

vii “World Running Risk of Sliding into Global-Scale Conflict in Couple of Months-Vucic”, TASS, https://tass.com/world/1510655, (Date of Accession: 21.09.2022).

viii “Ukraine War: Why is Putin Mobilizing Russia and What It Means”, Mint, https://www.livemint.com/news/world/ukraine-war-why-is-putin-mobilizing-russia-and-what-it-means-11663743441082.html, (Date of Accession: 21.09.2022)

ix Scott Disavino, “Oil Gives up Gains as Soaring US Dollar Offsets Putin’s Troop Mobilization”, Reuters, Oil gives up gains as soaring US dollar offsets Putin’s troop mobilization, (Date of Accession: 21.09.2022).

Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN
Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN, 2014 yılında Gazi Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2017 yılında Giresun Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası Güç İlişkileri Bağlamında İkinci Dünya Savaşı Sonrası Hegemonik Mücadelelerin İncelenmesi’’ başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora derecesini ise 2021 yılında Trakya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı‘nda hazırladığı “İmparatorluk Düşüncesinin İran Dış Politikasına Yansımaları ve Milliyetçilik” başlıklı teziyle alan Başaran’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Uluslararası ilişkiler kuramları, Amerikan dış politikası, İran araştırmaları ve Afganistan çalışmalarıdır. Başaran iyi derecede İngilizce ve temel düzeyde Farsça bilmektedir.