Written by Irene Patassini
After the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson in August, on the 21th of September Putin launched a call for “partial mobilisation” of Russian men between the ages of 18 and 50, with the aim of enlisting 300,000 soldiers amongst the reservists and former military personnel (Il Post, 2022). Three weeks later, the recruitment operation is said to have enlisted over 200,000 people, as stated by the Russian Defence Minister Shoigu (Cancian, 2022) (Il Post, 2022). Even if it is early to say, Russia is calculating whether the new recruits should be sent to the front without proper training as “cannon fodder” (Bathon, 2022), or whether to send them to the 80 camps and 6 training centres outlined by the Russian Defence Minister (Il Post, 2022). Currently the decision appears to be somewhere in between the two, with some of the recruits trained for fewer than three days before being sent to the front, while others completing the training phase.
However, the call disconcerted both national and international public opinions since it represented a U-turn from the abolition of forced conscription in 2008 and Putin’s promises International Women’s Day in 2022, when he denied any use of conscript soldiers (Reuters, 2022). Therefore, the aim of this paper is to comprehend the various reasons that led to this turnaround and to assess the efficacy of the forced conscription of Russians in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, both in terms of its short- and long-term effects. In the third paragraph the possible developments following the Russian mobilisation, including the threat of using nuclear weapons, will be analysed.