Divisions in the Army, Putin Gives Direct Orders to the Front: With or Without Mobilization, Russia Has No Answer to the Ukraine Offensive, US Services Say

Russia’s military leadership is divided over the best strategy to counter Ukraine’s unexpected advances on the battlefield this month, multiple sources familiar with the U.S. intelligence reports told CNN.

At the moment, President Vladimir Putin himself is giving instructions directly to frontline generals, said two sources familiar with the findings of US and Western intelligence services – a highly unusual tactic for a modern army which, according to these sources, suggest a dysfunctional command structure.

The intelligence intercepts caught Russian officers arguing among themselves and complaining to friends and relatives back home about decisions made in Moscow, one of those sources told CNN.

And there are significant disagreements over strategy, with military leaders having difficulty agreeing on where to focus efforts to shore up defense lines, the sources said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was redeploying forces to Kharkiv in the northeast – where Ukraine has made the most significant advances – but US and Western sources say the bulk of Russian troops remain in the south, where Ukraine has organized , also offensive operations around Kherson.

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Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization involving the call-up of up to 300,000 reservists. He has avoided taking that step for months, and Biden administration officials said Wednesday that the decision underscores the severity of Russia’s military shortfall and signals growing desperation.

Whose fault is it? Of the army

As Russia struggles on the battlefield, officials in Moscow have scrambled to find someone to blame for the frontline failure, a senior NATO official told CNN.

“Kremlin officials and state media pundits have been feverishly discussing the reasons for the Kharkiv failure, and typically the Kremlin appears to be trying to deflect blame from Putin and onto the Russian military,” the official explained.

A reshuffle of the military leadership in response to battlefield failures has already taken place – leaving Russia’s command structure even more disorganized than before, the sources say.

The commander who oversaw most of the units around the Kharkiv region had been in office for only 15 days and was relieved of his duties, the NATO official said.

Meanwhile, Russia has sent “a small number” of troops to eastern Ukraine, and some of them have fled the Ukrainian offensive, two US defense officials said.

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Even if Russia manages to settle on a plan, US and Western officials believe Moscow could offer only a limited strategic response to Ukraine’s operations that, in recent days, have turned the tide in Kiev’s favor .

Even after the announcement of the partial mobilization, officials are skeptical that Russia is capable of deploying large numbers of troops to Ukraine quickly, given its current problems with supply lines, communications and morale.

So far, Russia has responded to Ukraine’s advances by launching attacks against critical infrastructure, attacks that the U.S. considers largely “retaliatory,” the defense official said.

Without a combat force, Russia has few options to repel Ukrainian forces, US officials say.

Putin “is in trouble,” National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby told CNN on Wednesday. The Russian military is facing “poor unit cohesion, desertions and soldiers who don’t want to fight,” the official added.

What the mobilization order signals

Putin’s mobilization order is significant because it is a direct admission that Moscow’s “special military operation” was not working and needed to be adjusted, military analysts said.

But for now, there are more questions than answers about its exact operational impact.

It is the first order of its kind issued in Russia since World War II, giving military analysts limited data on which to base their predictions.

Even if it can increase its troop numbers — by extending the contracts of current front-line troops and mobilizing reservists — Moscow will have to train the latter, equip them and integrate them into existing units, said Michael Kofman, the program’s director. of studies on Russia within the Center for Naval Analysis.

And even if that solves some short-term combat strength problems, the newly mobilized men likely won’t be high-quality recruits, Kofman and others noted.

Even in the most optimistic scenario, it will also take some time for Moscow to actually mobilize new troops.

“I think it’s reasonable to say that partial mobilization probably won’t be reflected on the battlefield for months at the earliest, and it might extend Russia’s ability to sustain this war, but it won’t change its outcome,” he said. Koffman.

Russia’s longstanding failures in planning, communications and logistics were compounded by the painful losses suffered in its retreat around Kharkiv, the sources told CNN.

Russia left behind “a lot” of equipment, according to the NATO official. And at least one historic unit, the First Guards Tank Army, was “decimated,” the sources said.

“With the northern axis almost collapsed, this will make it difficult for Russian forces to slow down the Ukrainian advance as well as provide cover for retreating Russian troops,” the official said.

“We also believe that this will seriously affect Russia’s plans to occupy the entire Donbas,” the source added.

The unknown remains, as always, the Russian president.

On Wednesday, Putin again threatened to use nuclear weapons, a threat US officials said they were taking “seriously” while seeing no immediate indication that he intended to follow through.

Pro-Russian authorities in some occupied regions of eastern Ukraine have also announced their intention to hold referendums on joining Russia, a move Moscow could use as a pretext for military action.

But, the senior NATO official said, “in general, Russia is now on the defensive. Ukraine has the initiative, forcing Russia to take provisional measures simply to avoid further losses.”

“If Ukraine manages to undertake sustained defensive operations, this could further undermine the sustainability of Russian defenses,” this source told CNN.

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Tags: #Divisions Army Putin Direct Orders Front Mobilization Russia Answer Ukraine Offensive Services

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