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UK Defense Ministry: Lack of rotations likely one of key factors lowering Russian army’s morale

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 21, 2023 12:54 PM 2 min read
Russian soldiers patrol a street on April 11, 2022, in Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast. (Alexander Nemenov /AFP via Getty Images)
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The absence of regular rotations of units on combat duty is “highly likely" one of the key aspects contributing to the Russian army’s low morale and inability to carry out advanced training since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, reported the U.K. Defense Ministry.

“The lack of such training is highly likely contributing to Russia’s difficulties in conducting successful complex offensive operations,” the ministry wrote in its latest intelligence update.

Sept. 21 is the anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of “partial mobilization” for Moscow’s full-scale war against Ukraine. According to Russian officials, 300,000 people were called up during this campaign.

The U.K. Defense Ministry cited Russian State Duma Defence Committee Chair Andrei Kartapolov reiterating on Sept. 15 that the mobilized soldiers were required to serve for the duration of the Ukraine war, which Moscow calls a "special military operation."

ISW: Russia hopes to attract recruits without resorting to forced mobilization
Moscow is trying to attract volunteers to its armed forces with incentives, rather than mandates, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Aug. 3 report.

According to the report, Kartapolov also said that rotation of personnel from the combat zone during their service was impossible due to the difficult situation at the front.

On Sept. 3, the U.K. Defense Ministry wrote that Russia was stepping up its campaign to recruit foreigners in neighboring countries and exploited migrant workers for its war against Ukraine to avoid a new wave of domestic mobilization before its presidential election in 2024.

Russia has also forcibly drafted residents of occupied Ukrainian territories. According to Ukraine’s National Resistance Center, Moscow intends to increase the pace of mobilization in the occupied territories, in part to ease pressure on domestic mobilization efforts.

Forced mobilization in the Russian Federation has proven to be deeply unpopular. The Kremlin's ongoing practice of conducting the mobilization campaign along ethnic lines further sows social division and unrest.

Ukrainians in Russia fear mobilization: ‘If conscripted, I will shoot Russians and surrender’
Editor’s note: The names of the people interviewed by the Kyiv Independent for this story have been changed to protect their identity as they have shared sensitive information that could place them and their families in danger. When Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization,…
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