If Russia wants to launch a new offensive in Ukraine in the spring and summer, a new mobilization of reservists seems unavoidable. Ukraine expects an announcement of 500,000 draft men on January 15th. But Putin could also let the mobilization run much more quietly than in September 2022.

Since the beginning of the war against Ukraine, Russia has had a personnel problem. The longer the war lasts, the worse it seems to be. According to military experts, if the Russian military leadership wants to launch a new offensive in the spring and summer, it needs one thing above all: more armed forces. Even a mobilization in neighboring Belarus seems to be possible, warn politicians in exile.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin mobilized 300,000 reservists. A new mobilization is the only way, experts agree. How many reservists the Kremlin intends to mobilize and from when remains an open question.

The Ukrainian secret service expects 500,000 men to mobilize again. It is due to be announced on January 15, Andriy Chernyak, a senior official in Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, told news site t-online. Previously, both the military intelligence service and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense assumed January 5 as the deadline.

For example, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov warned the Russian population on New Year’s Eve: “In early January, the Russian authorities will close the borders to men, then impose martial law and launch another wave of mobilization. The borders with Belarus will also be closed”. Mobilization was not announced on January 5, Chernyak is certain that it will now be January 15.

In the last few days, however, reports of Russians reporting draft notices have been piling up on social media. A video on Twitter is said to show a man burning his subpoena for January 6th.

The Estonian secret service recently spoke of at least 200,000 new soldiers at the front. One can assume that the reservists from the first wave of mobilization are now almost fully trained and will be sent to the front in four to six weeks, emphasizes Margo Grosberg, head of military intelligence in Estonia.

The reservists of the second wave of mobilization could therefore be deployed at the end of March or the beginning of April. Sergei Kriwenko, head of the legal protection organization “Bürger. Army. Right” to BBC News in late December. “I’m currently assuming that in the spring, when the new soldiers are trained, a new offensive could start,” said Russia expert Stefan Meister from the “German Council on Foreign Relations” (DGAP) at the end of November in an interview with FOCUS online .

There is also the question of whether the Kremlin will publicly announce a second mobilization like the first. No, believes the Russian political scientist Dmitri Oreshkin. Putin will let them go quietly, he says.

Probably not to upset the population. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have been fleeing abroad for months, fearing a new wave of mobilization. Russian media have also apparently been banned from disseminating information about a mobilization, even if the sources are the State Duma or the Federation Council.

In mid-December, Putin emphasized that further mobilization was not necessary and that the 300,000 reservists called up so far were sufficient. In the same breath, however, he then said that there were “no financial restrictions” on the expansion of the army. But Putin has left a loophole open. He did not sign a decree that formally sealed the end of the September mobilization. It’s not legally necessary, he said. Instead, volunteers are used. There had been 20,000 mobilizations since September. Compared to the 300,000 called up reservists, that’s a small number. On January 1st, Putin increased his army strength by 137,000 men to two million.

Concerns about mobilization are not only increasing in Russia. The Belarusian opposition is also warning of a possible mobilization in their country to support Russia. The opposition politician Pawel Latuschka, who lives in exile in Warsaw, told the editorial network Germany (RND/Saturday) that the preparations for this were well advanced. The Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko only needs to press the button on orders from the Kremlin to start mobilizing.

Fears about an active participation of the Belarusian military in the war of aggression have existed practically since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Now, however, Russia’s military presence in Belarus is said to have increased drastically. In addition, almost all employees who report to the Belarusian Ministry of the Interior have been asked to hand in their passports. As a result, they could no longer leave the country in the event of a possible mobilization.

The consequences of another Russian mobilization could be enormous for Ukraine, says Grosberg. Because even if Ukraine can largely count on military support from the West, its personnel capacities are likely to be exhausted soon. Men aged 60 and older are sometimes called up to support the army. Martial law and the mobilization of the army are still in force until February 19. For example, all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are currently not allowed to leave the country. But while Ukraine has one million reservists, Russia’s capacity is thirty times that.