What Is Behind Kiev's Talk of Mobilizing 200,000 Men?

Empty posturing or preparation for renewed offensive? Or something else entirely...

Thu, Jan 8, 2015
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This article originally appeared at Fort Russ


Translation by J. Hawk:

On January 6 during the presentation of the new prosecutor of the Chernovtsy region in Chernovtsy, the Deputy Prosecutor General and Ukraine’s Military Prosecutor Anatoliy Matios announced that 200 thousand Ukrainians will be mobilized into the armed forces in 2015.

“I can already inform you that we are anticipating to mobilize 100 thousand during the fourth wave of mobilization, 50 thousand during the next one, and another 50 thousand during the sixth one.

They have their own means of accounting, hence the large numbers. But I can tell you this is a lot of people. Mobilization will take place over the course of 210 days of this year.

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Military commissar for Chernovtsy region Vitaliy Churay stated that the military commissariat received the preliminary mobilization task for the fourth mobilization wave which will begin on January 20.

The task specifies the mobilization of 1400 Bukovina residents to replace those Bukovina residents who have already served a year.

We note that on December 20 the Secretary of National Defense and Security Aleksandr Turchinov announced that mobilization this year will occur in three stages between January and August.

The first stage will begin on January 20 and will last 90 days, the second will begin sometime in April and will last 60 days, while the third will start in June and likewise will last 60 days.

It was also announced that the mobilization waves will recall tank crewmen, artillerymen, paratroopers, infantrymen, communications personnel, maintenance personnel, drivers, weapons mechanics, supply, electronic warfare, nuclear and chemical defense specialists.

In addition, 30 thousand Ukrainians will be drafted into mandatory military service.

2014 saw three waves of mobilization.


J. Hawk Comments:

These really are large numbers, and there are a number of possible explanations for this upsurge of mobilization activity which are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

1. The Ukrainian military is planning to go on the offensive sometime in the spring, therefore it needs to build up its personnel strength.

The problem with this scenario is that the limiting factor is not so much the availability of manpower, but rather trained and motivated leadership, as well as modern equipment of which the Ukrainian military lost a great deal in the fighting during the summer of 2014.

2. This announcement simply represents tough-guy posturing (“Ukraine is not dead yet!”) aimed at convincing both Russia and the West that, economic crisis and looming default notwithstanding, the Ukrainian state is firmly under the control of the current government and is not about to knuckle under.

This is supposed to reassure Western creditors and dismay the Russian government into changing its policies. Of course, the fact that mobilization is a very costly endeavor means that it will only exacerbate Ukraine’s economic problems.

3. The Ukrainian military needs to simply maintain its numbers because its active strength is dropping literally day by day due to desertion. However, replacing deserters with future deserters hardly seems like a worthwhile endeavor, which is why the numbers of called up reservists will be so large—maybe at least a small proportion of them will stay in service.

4. Considering the extortion racket that accompanied the prior waves of mobilization (one Ukrainian officer mentioned being asked to pay a $1000 bribe to avoid being whisked away to the military commissariat), the military views mobilization as an excellent vehicle for self-enrichment. Not that the money will be used for any official purpose.

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