Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to announce a new conscription effort in the coming days.
The Kremlin has announced that Putin will deliver an address in St. Petersburg to commemorate the Soviet Union’s victory in the siege of Leningrad during WWII. Experts, believe that the speech will serve a dual purpose; to announce a second conscriptionrive as Russia’s invasion enters its second year. Russia’s first conscription effort of its reserve forces last September saw many citizens flee the country or go into hiding. Many have been able to avoid the front lines by bribing officers.
Ukrainian military intelligence expects at least half a million will be conscripted, or called into service, to act as a “strategic reserve force” amid continued heavy Russian losses of personnel and territory. It’s a major step in the Russian military’s plans to expand personnel to 1.5 million in the long-term, though it remains to be seen how many new conscripts will be mobilized into active duty. On Sunday, Russian-backed Wagner Group forces reportedly captured the eastern town of Soledar, a key tactical victory that Putin has used as a rallying cry for the nation. Russia is widely expected to launch a major offensive in the spring when the second fighting season starts.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is pushing for Western nations to send more heavy weaponry to Kyiv, emphasizing the impact it’s had on Ukraine’s war effort. This spring will likely be critical in determining the future course of this war, with Ukraine possibly reinforced by NATO countries and Russia looking to turn the momentum of the fighting in their favor.