What Putin’s war mobilization decree says and doesn’t say

·3 min read

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of Russian forces on Wednesday, marking a big escalation as Moscow faces a series of setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine.

Putin announced the decree in a rare address to the nation during which he said that a preemptive occupation of Ukraine was the only option and accused the West of “crossing every line” in its reaction to the invasion.

The text of Putin’s decree offers little insight into who exactly qualifies under the mobilization criteria.

Here’s what it does and doesn’t lay out:

It’s a partial mobilization

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony at Russia’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to mark the upcoming Victory Day, in Moscow. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

A partial mobilization allows Russia to only mobilize certain groups to serve in Russia’s armed forces, as opposed to mobilizing the entire reserve.

The move comes as Kyiv pushes forward with a counteroffensive that has proved highly successful. Ukraine has reclaimed thousands of square miles of territory that were occupied by Russia after its invasion in February. This success has caused Putin frustration and political pain at home.

Who qualifies for being called up?

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, flanked by General Staff chief, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, right, and Defense Minister Sergei Shogu, left, attend the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) military exercise in fareastern Russia, outside Vladivostok. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The text of the decree says Russia will carry out “the call-up of citizens of the Russian Federation for military service,” and that they will serve as military personnel under contract.

Those who are mobilized will be under contract as if they are military personnel until the end of the partial mobilization period unless they are dismissed from service.

The decree does state that service members can be dismissed for age, health reasons or in connection with an “entry into force of a court verdict on the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment.”

The mobilization takes effect on Wednesday, but it doesn’t explicitly define when the mobilization period will end.

How many people will be called up? 

Russian soldiers after the invasion of Ukraine. (Getty Images)

The text of the decree itself doesn’t mention how many will be mobilized.

However, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu said that up to 300,000 people will be mobilized as part of the effort.

He also said that 25 million people fit the criteria, but that about one percent will qualify, according to The Associated Press.

The Institute for the Study of War has said Russia has over 2 million reserve forces.

For perspective, Russia is currently estimated to have about 150,000 troops fighting in Ukraine, The Washington Post reported.

While the text of the mobilization decree doesn’t explicitly mention who qualified for the mobilization, Putin said in his speech that only military reservists who have already served in the armed forces will be called up.

A missing article

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks to journalists prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

The official mobilization decree comes with ten articles, but only nine of them are being made public.

One of the articles — Article 7 — is classified, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian News Agency TASS.

Peskov said he couldn’t explain why the seventh article was classified but appeared to imply that it had to do with the number of people being mobilized under the order.

What happens before active duty

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech as he attends a ceremony to receive credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia. (Pavel Bednyakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Top officials from each “constituent entity” of the Russian Federation have to arrange the conscription of citizens in accordance with the decree, the text states.

Putin said that before being sent to units, those called up for active duty will have to undergo additional training based on “the experience of the special military operation.”

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