The Ukrainian army is gradually recapturing the areas occupied by the Russians and penetrating deep into Russian territory. The pressure of Western sanctions on Russia is also increasing – it seems as if Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is increasingly being cornered. But a new Russian law paints a different picture.
As the Russian parliament passed a new mobilization law this week, Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Duma’s defense committee, said: “These amendments are written for a big war and general mobilization. And the smell of this great war is already perceptible”. The legislation aims to allow the Kremlin to send hundreds of thousands more men into the fray.
Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin, sees a new Russian intention in the new law: Putin is not preparing to turn away from his catastrophic war in Ukraine, but for an even bigger war, he writes in the “ Financial Times “. According to Gabuev, the recently passed mobilization law is a key element in Putin’s efforts to maximize Russia’s military capability and undermine Western support for Kiev.
Military strategy and economic strangulation
Despite international sanctions and growing pressure from the West, the Kremlin is unimpressed by the Ukrainian counter-offensive. Gabuev points out in the “Financial Times” that the Kremlin is counting on its far greater mobilization potential, which is three to four times greater than that of Ukraine. The crucial task for the Russians is now to be able to access this resource: to mobilize, arm, train and send many more men into battle. This is exactly the purpose of the new law, according to Gabuev.
In addition to the military strategy, according to Gabuev, the Kremlin is also pursuing a tactic of economic strangulation in Ukraine. Putin is trying to cut off all sources of income for Kiev in order to destabilize the country economically. These include ending grain deals that allowed Ukrainian agricultural exports across the Black Sea, and massive airstrikes on Ukrainian ports to destroy any possibility of those deals resuming.
Military expert: Putin hopes for growing frustration in the West
According to Gabuev, the Kremlin hopes that the rapid reconstruction of the Russian army and the gradual decimation of Ukraine’s economy and armed forces will lead to growing frustration in the West and a drop in material support for Kiev. To speed up this process and break the will of the West, Moscow would bet on the threat of escalation, including expanding the conflict into NATO territory via Belarus with the help of Wagner mercenaries stationed there, Gabuev said.
Despite many of Putin’s fatal mistakes, as long as he is in power he will use Moscow’s still considerable resources to realize the obsession to destroy and subdue Ukraine. Therefore, Gabuev appeals to Western leaders to take this fact into account when developing long-term strategies to support Ukraine. Given the Kremlin’s aggressive strategy, it is imperative that Western leaders maintain their support for Ukraine and work towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict, Gabuev said.