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Russia is desperate for troops after huge losses in Ukraine

May 16, 2023


Russia’s military racked up massive casualties during its winter offensive in Ukraine, with as many as 100,000 Russians killed or wounded since December alone. Vladimir Putin is reportedly ready to mobilize college students to replenish his army’s depleted ranks.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan says Russia is desperate for troops but warns bringing in more “undisciplined” and “ill-prepared” soldiers will give Ukraine the chance to gain the upper hand in the war.

Excerpted from Peter’s May 15 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter.

What happened to the half million Russian soldiers I predicted would hit the battlefield by June?

This goes without saying, but the data we’re working with is shaky. The video could stop there…but it’s also worth noting that even [especially] Russian President Vladimir Putin is being lied to. I suppose you’re asking for it when your inner circle is comprised of only six people (of which only half are competent).

Now back to the 500,000 number. At least 300,000 soldiers have been injured or killed since the operation began, which is close to the total from the first Russian mobilization. Yikes.

The Russians will need to bring in more numbers with a second mobilization, which means low-skilled soldiers and weak points in the Russian line. Now we’re looking through a murky and convoluted lens, but this all sounds like an opportunity for Ukraine.

Hey everybody, Peter Zeihan here. We’ve done a quick series on the counteroffensive that the Ukrainians have planned for this spring and summer. And a lot of you had questions, so we’re kind of turning q&a into a fourth video that features cloudy Colorado. Haven’t seen the sun here in a few days, probably aren’t going to for a few more. So question number one, what happened to the half a million Russian soldiers that I was predicting 3-4 months ago were going to be on the field of battle by the time we got to June. Well, we’re talking about Russian data and Russian information here, so …on the front end and now, but the best guess we have right now is that Putin was lied to.
We know that Putin is stacking his inner circle of sycophants for quite some time. There’s really only about six people he talks to at all, only three of them are competent. And the other three, unfortunately, are in charge of the defense industry and especially the military plans in Ukraine. The two personalities that matter the most, the first one is the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, who is arguably the most incompetent person in the Russian government right now. And he’s obviously in charge of the broader battle plan and the entire defense industry. And we now know that Shoigu has probably stolen personally 1/3 of the Russian budget that was appropriated for defense equipment manufacturers over the last several years, and probably … a second third was stolen by his underlings. So whenever you see the Russians just not having enough equipment to do anything meaningful, it’s probably his fault, and he’s the one in charge of the battle plan, and he’s the one who indicated there were going to be a lot more weapons shipments.
The second defense official who arguably rivals Shoigu with his military incompetence is the guy who runs the Wagner Group, Dmitry progisan. This guy was literally a caterer until a few years ago, and then got a little bit of money from the Russian government in order to build up this paramilitary group that we know as Wagner that would go around the world hiring itself as mercenaries and committing war crimes when the local governments didn’t want to. That doesn’t mean he can’t run a paramilitary organization, but it means he has no experience, either managing or leading or participating in a military operation himself, and he has been leading the military operation in Baukman. Now for those of you who have been following Ukrainian news, you know that the Russians have been throwing body after body after body after body against the Bachman city for six months now. And conservatively speaking, 20,000 Russians have died and 100,000 have been injured.
The real numbers are probably significantly higher, how much higher, we don’t know. But that means this one battle, which is not particularly strategically significant, where they’ve lost huge numbers of forces, has taken a real bite out of any other conscription or mobilization programs that the Russian government has been instituting. So back to that half a million number. Best guess is that the Russians have lost at least 100,000, maybe as many as 200,000 men since the operation began. In addition to that, at least 100,000 that were injured in Bachman, and probably another 100,000 everywhere else. So let’s add it up.
When the Russians first came in in February of 2022, they had about 100,000-140,000 men. They then did a partial mobilization that is as confirmed as anything as we can get with Russian data, that brought in another 300,000. But if you’re talking 200,000 injured throughout the war, 100,000 specifically in Bachman, and another at least 100,000 dead, that’s the entire mobilization.
So we’re probably looking at a second partial mobilization, maybe 200,000, maybe 250,000. But that doesn’t leave Russian forces with all that many more troops than they started with. And these new troops aren’t going to be nearly as skilled, which argues that the Ukrainians are going to have a relatively easy time of things. Most of these new recruits haven’t really been in battle. They’ve been building anti-tank fortifications. And I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never built an anti-tank fortification myself. And if you were mobilized over the course of the last 90 days to build tank fortifications, I would argue that maybe they’re not the best anti-tank fortifications that could be built.
All this would suggest that Ukrainians are gonna do really well in the next couple of months, but fog of war and Russian data and people actively lying to the Russian government about the status of the war, so …Okay, on to the next question.

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