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As I warned a few hours ago, it was necessary to look to Moscow because Russia was going to take action for the various reasons I explained in my previous commentary.
Well, Russia has immediately decreed partial mobilisation and is preparing for annexation referenda. Ukraine meanwhile is stepping up counter-attack efforts.
I try to give a few points that should be taken into consideration in the current phase of partial mobilisation. Military legislation as regards mobilisation in Russia has a very clearly stratified structure, consisting of several stages:
- Contract mobilisation forces or reservists, abbreviated as "BARS" [Боевой Армейский Резерв Страны, Boevoy Armeyskiy Rezerv Strany; or: Combat Army Reserve of the Country, by its acronym BARS, или барс = Leopard], are attached to military district organisations and can be mobilised quickly.
- The second mobilisation ring means that Russian men under the age of 45 (55 for former professional soldiers) can be conscripted, with certain exceptions. At the beginning of 2022, the Duma approved that citizens in this ring must go to the relevant conscription centres or military commissariats, and follow the procedure for service.
- The third and last ring is general mobilisation, but this is not in question, at least not at this stage, although I will come back to this issue below.
Regarding reservists or BARS, according to the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation "On the creation of a human reserve for mobilisation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation" in 2021, which launched this project to form a reserve of units for mobilisation, a new generation contract is established that allows the reservist to receive additional income from the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation by combining main civilian work and service in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In other words, these persons have retained their main job and salary.
- In accordance with the Federal Law of 28 March 1998 No. 53-FZ "On military service and employment of the armed forces", citizens who are in the reserve of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation may join the mobilisation forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on a voluntary basis by signing a contract to be in the reserve.
The selection of candidates for inclusion in the reserve is carried out by military commissariats (and this is literal, as we read военнными комимисссариатами or voyennymi komissariatami, this is Soviet terminology) and military units from among citizens who have completed military service, are medically fit and have the required military registration specialties.
During training sessions and exercises, reservists receive combat training in firing all types of weapons, driving military equipment and other practical actions in their military specialties.
- Training in the human mobilisation reserve includes training sessions of no more than three days per month for a total of no more than 24 days per year and camps of up to 30 days per year.
Conditions for being in the human mobilisation pool include:
a) For three days of training, an officer shall receive 12% of his salary (up to 8 thousand roubles, a sergeant-soldier up to 5 thousand roubles).
b) For 30 days of stay in military training the officer shall receive 100% of the amount of salary (up to 50 thousand roubles, a soldier up to 35 thousand roubles).
c) For one month without participation in training and assembly activities, an officer shall receive up to 5 thousand roubles, a sergeant-soldier up to 3.5 thousand roubles.
Pecuniary payments to a reservist are based on his military rank and military position.
After being in the reserve for more than one year, a reservist with a military rank lower than that of the military post is credited for the next military rank.
When a reservist signs a new three- or five-year contract,the reservist is paid a lump sum of 1 to 1.5 months' salary, depending on the length of the contract.
There are opportunities for receiving education, refresher or further studies at 35 universities of the Russian Ministry of Defence in 159 civilian specialisations and professions.
Service in the mobilisation reserve provides for simplified enlistment in military service under contract, including in officer positions on the recommendation of the respective superior commanders.
Citizens enrolled in the mobilisation reserve are provided with three meals a day, gratuities, modern equipment and clothing allowances in accordance with the standards set by the Ministry of Defence.
They are also entitled to free medical care at Ministry of Defence facilities.
Free travel by various means of transport to and from the place of military education and training.
A special feature of the contract is the possibility of combining basic civilian work with military training and exercises. Citizens are guaranteed to keep their jobs and salaries. During these cases, the state compensates the company where the reservist works for the amount of his average income, and the employment offices compensate the unemployment benefits of the registered citizens.
Requirements for applicants when concluding a contract:
A contract to stay in a reserve for mobilisation can only be concluded with a citizen of the Russian Federation.
- The contract is concluded for 3 to 5 years.
- The first contract is for 3 years, the following 3 years and 5 years optional.
The contract shall be concluded with a citizen in the reserve who has previously served in the army and has a military rank:
a) Private, sailor, sergeant, boatswain's mate, petty officer and midshipman - up to 42 years of age.
b) Junior officers - up to 47 years of age; and,
c) Senior officers - up to 52 years of age.
A citizen entering the reserve must meet the requirements for citizens entering military service under a contract.
For health reasons, a citizen qualifies for military service (category A) or qualifies for military service with minor restrictions (category B).
Citizens who have expressed their wish to conclude a contract to remain in the reserves undergo a medical examination and a professional-psychological screening at the Military Commissariat of the relevant districts.
In August 2021, the Russian Armed Forces began urgently forming a combat army reserve of reservists [BARS].
The Russian reserve has more than two million former conscripts and contracted military personnel on paper, but few are actively trained or prepared for war. Historically, only 10 per cent of reservists receive refresher training after completing their initial period of service. Official data provided by the Russian Federation can be found here. So far, Russia has had clear problems in terms of administrative and financial capacity to train reservists on a continuous basis.
It is clear that this reserve will not constitute the 300,000 troops claimed by Defence Minister Shoigu, adding that Russia has 25,000,000 potential recruits.
The Russian Armed Forces recruit semi-annually, with the autumn conscription lasting from 1 October to 31 December and the spring conscription from 1 April to 15 July. On reflection and in possible anticipation, in 2022 the Kremlin announced spring conscription on 18 February instead of 1 April.
Recruitment affects all men aged 18-27, although some recruits may be as young as 16.
Russian conscripts usually serve one year. The annual conscription intake of all Russian men of military age is approximately 1.2 million people, although only about half are obliged to report to their military commissariat.
New recruits undergo one to two months of basic training, followed by three to six months of advanced training before arriving in assigned units. Under current law, recruits are prevented from deploying to combat with less than four months of training; however, martial law or general mobilisation could replace the current policy, allowing immediate employment of new recruits or mobilised reservists.
Current law limits reserve mobilisation to soldiers and sailors under the age of 45 and officers under the age of 55, who would be the next ring of mobilisation. Men who transferred to the reserves less than two years ago, fathers of three or more children and those with criminal records are also exempt from mobilisation under the current law. Despite this, it should be noted that the Russian State Duma adopted a bill on 22 February 2022 to strengthen general mobilisation by making it mandatory for men to report to the office of a military commissariat without receiving a notice of compulsory military service from regional authorities, as can be seen here.
The implications of this law reduce the administrative time needed to recruit if the Kremlin declares martial law. The Russian army can activate both reservists and new recruits during general mobilisation, including those previously exempted from compulsory military service.
Although with regard to those with criminal records, it is worth noting the more than possible recruitment being done through the Russian private military contractor Wagner, as explained in this article in The Guardian, which shows a video of someone very similar to Yevgeny Prigozhin, recruiting among the inmates of penal colony No. 8, in the Tambov region.
In the event of a general mobilisation, the Russian army will probably try to fill the ranks of nascent reserve units and replace combat casualties from units already serving in Ukraine.
A critical aspect of the mobilisation legislation concerns conscripts serving compulsory military service. These units, as I have explained, can only be deployed directly to combat service in the event of a declaration of war and mobilisation. The practical consequences of a declaration of mobilisation will be important for conscripts who, for the most part, are conscripted and perform compulsory military service.
On the other hand, despite what Minister Shoigu says, it is unclear how the Russian Armed Forces, which are facing logistical problems, will be able to equip the supposedly additional 300,000 troops. Moreover, according to the mobilisation orders, the deployment of troops on Ukrainian territory will also pose a serious problem.
Another implication of the current partial mobilisation is quite obvious, as it aims to provide the necessary deterrence and military preparedness for the illegal referendum and annexation processes (Zaporizhia, Luhansk, Kherson, Donetsk), accelerated by the Ukrainian counteroffensive, while Russia prepares to escalate the conflict to a higher level, as I explained in my recent commentary on anticipation and possible consequences. This is because the Russian National Guard (or Rosgvardiya/Росгвардия. Федеральная служба войск национальной гвардии Росссийской Федерациии, lit. Federal Troops Service of the National Guard of the Russian Federation), which is under the command of General Zolotov, and which was supposed to perform these tasks, honestly he did not perform up to expectations.
For the moment this is my view and here are the different elements to keep in mind from now on. At least for the time being.