The speech from Putin today is a careful balancing act of a leader under pressure, who is trying to: 1. please hardliners and Russian milbloggers; 2. not displease the general populace; 3. appease the military; 4. give the impression he is not losing a war. 1/20 🧵
2/ The full text is worth a read. It demonstrates the range of interests that Putin is appealing to. It is also Putin’s version of a war update to the Russian people.…
3/ He describes the importance of the referendums in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. This is nothing more than fig leaves for the Russians to claim their raping, pillaging and murdering thugs in #Ukraine are ‘defending Russia’
4/ The speech also refers to industrial production, noting “heads of defence industry enterprises will be directly responsible for attaining the goals of increasing the production of weapons and military equipment.”
5/ Also, lots of “it’s all NATO’s fault” with a measure of “it is also the fault of western elites”.
6/ On war aims, Putin has held the course: “The main goal of this operation, which is to liberate the whole of Donbass, remains unaltered.”
7/ On mobilisation - it is interesting that he doesn’t describe it as his order, rather “I find it necessary to support the proposal of the Defence Ministry and the General Staff on partial mobilisation”. This sets up the military for eventual blame in the war.
8/ The partial mobilisation is unlikely to appease hardliners and will probably scare the general population. Perhaps this is why airfares out of Russia are selling so quickly.
9/ Putin also addresses the poor state of proxy forces from Donetsk and Luhansk. “Special attention must be given to organising the supply of military and other equipment for volunteer units and Donbass people’s militia.”
10/ How long will this mobilisation process take? That is difficult to know, however troops being prepared to hold ground for the coming winter can be equipped, trained and dispatched more quickly than those for offensive operations.
11/ Putin would have clearly felt pressure from the military to initiate this call up. The majority of the Russian army has been committed to this war. Russian Army leaders have watched their army slowly but surely disappear.
12/ They needed to replenish manpower if they were to just hold onto territory already taken. Not only have they lost huge numbers of personnel killed and wounded, there will have been other losses from accidents and psychological issues.
13/ And those that remain in Ukraine have been in combat for nearly 8 months. Given combat performance degrades from the 3-4 month mark, this is an exhausted force which needs rotation. Such rotation was impossible without this partial mobilisation.
14/ The numbers being called up are not sufficient to make any decisive contribution or change the outcome of the war. Ukraine has mobilised many more personnel. This is more about rotation and replacements rather that building some huge new offensive capability for Russia.
15/ Which all tells us a couple of things. First, Putin and his military privately accept that they could lose this war. The personnel and industrial measures described in the speech are clear indicators of this.
16/ Second, Putin is not stepping away from this war. He has initiated this risky measure in the hope he can prolong the war and out wait western nations, so they tire of supporting Ukraine. So far, this has to worked.
17/ Third, Putin has listened to Xi and Modi last week. He didn’t take away that he shouldn’t be at war. His takeaway was that he must win this or his position relative to China and India will be greatly degraded.
18/ Fourth, western deterrence measures remain important elements of this war. Putin continues to rattle the nuclear sabre in the speech. “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country …we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us.”
19/ Fifth, it will take some time to raise these reservists and then deploy them to #Ukraine. This means the Ukrainians have an opportunity to continue making progress in their offensives against the Russians.
20/ Finally, Putin’s gamble here prolongs the agony of the Ukrainian people without providing any real chance of a Russian victory. Ultimately this announcement doesn’t change the prospect of a Ukrainian victory. But it means many more people will die before that occurs. End.

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More from @WarintheFuture

Sep 20
The last two weeks have answered a central question of the Russo-Ukraine War; can Ukraine undertake the offensives required to liberate their people & reoccupy their territory? They have answered this question emphatically with their Kharkiv offensive. 1/19 Image
2/ During this offensive, I had the opportunity to visit #Ukraine and to speak with high level military and government officials. I took away three key observations from the visit. Image
3/ First, the Ukrainians are competent. This is a gross understatement. No military this century has had to fight across all the domains of war concurrently, and do so against a larger and better armed adversary.…
Read 19 tweets
Sep 18
There is a lot going on in #Ukraine at the moment. The macro story is that Russia appears to have lost the initiative at every level. But there is also an interesting story to be told about Ukrainian campaign planning. 1/24 Image
2/ The Ukrainian offensive in the north east is continuing to exploit a bumbling and incoherent Russian defensive scheme to the east of Kharkiv. Thousands of square kilometres of Ukrainian territory have been recaptured, and many towns and their inhabitants have been liberated. Image
3/ Even the Oskil Rver defensive line, rapidly established by the Russians, appears to be crumbling. Deception and operational art have been central to Ukrainian preparations for their achieving surprise against the Russians in this new phase of the war.
Read 24 tweets
Sep 17
This is a fine piece from @IAPonomarenko about the tremendous feat of arms achieved by #Ukraine over the past couple of weeks. However, there is still a way to go in this war. Some thoughts on a Saturday morning as I depart Warsaw. 1/16
2/ First, the momentum generated by the Kharkiv offensive is continuing to bear fruit in the north east and east of #Ukraine. The Ukrainians, having surprised the Russians, generated shock in both the soldiers and the command chain of the Russian Army.
3/ As good military leaders know, it is during this period of ‘shock’ where the most gains can be made in territory, and in destroying or capturing the enemy. The Ukrainians, while weary now, have fully appreciated this and are exploiting Russian disarray for as long as it lasts.
Read 16 tweets
Sep 14
An updated thread on the wartime #leadership demonstrated by @ZelenskyyUa – with a focus on visiting troops in the field, particularly in the wake of the successful Kharkiv offensive. 1/10 🧵
2/ His visits have many purposes. First, it allows @ZelenskyyUa to get a feel for the morale & capability of his military in the field. You can read reports, but there is no substitute for walking the ground with leaders & soldiers at the tip of the spear.
3/ Another reason for visits by @ZelenskyyUa is to engage with junior soldiers in the field, to inspire them, recognise their sacrifice and to reiterate the purpose of their sacrifices. Purpose is the most important thing a leader can provide.
Read 10 tweets
Sep 12
A good update on the Ukrainian offensive in the north east from @TheStudyofWar and @criticalthreats. Some thoughts on the current situation. 1/12 🧵
2/ What we have seen over the last few days has been a superb feat of arms, underpinned by good planning, intelligence, #leadership and above all - battlefield courage from the Ukrainian armed forces.
3/ As highlighted over the last few days, winning can become a habit, especially when you fight smart and lead well. This is what we have seen from the Ukrainians throughout the war, but particularly in this northeastern campaign.
Read 12 tweets
Sep 11
The last 48 hours have seen some stunning battlefield developments in #Ukraine. Ukrainian operations in the northeast continue to exploit its penetration of Russian defences. 1/18 🧵
2/ There is much that remains unclear about these offensives. But #Ukraine clearly achieved surprise against the Russians in the #Kharkiv region. Deception has been central to all Ukrainian preparations for this phase of the war.
3/ That it was able to exploit this opportunity indicates that Ukraine had an excellent plan to deceive Russian overhead collection assets as well as their tactical reconnaissance and surveillance.
Read 18 tweets

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