Putin was ‘covertly’ mobilising Russians to Ukraine months before announcement

Months before Vladimir Putin announced his “partial mobilisation” of Russian reservists to boost troop numbers in Ukraine, the Russian leader had already authorised a secret call-up of extra troops, according to Ukrainian intelligence sources.

Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence agency has revealed the contents of a report from one of its operatives, Vadym Skibitskyi. In it he claims that Russia “began a covert mobilisation” after the Russian army began to suffer a series of battlefield defeats.

While the official mobilisation was not announced until September this year, Putin had signed off on a new wave of reinforcements back in May, according to Skibitskyi.

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“Back in May, the first evidence appeared that the Russian federation was unable to cope with the tasks it had set before itself,” Skibitskyi said.

“The quick capture of Kyiv and the full occupation of Ukraine failed. During that period, the first so-called volunteers began to appear.

“The ‘combat army reserve of the country’ was involved,” he added, “Russian private military companies began to actively recruit people, and so-called patriotic battalions appeared, which were to be recruited by all federal entities of the Russian Federation”.

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The official mobilisation is proving very unpopular in Russia, with many eligible men leaving the country rather than waiting to be called up.

According to data from the Ministry of Defence, Russia is suffering from a severe shortage of officers to lead the new recruits and training is poor or non-existent.

Moscow officials said in September it planned to call up some 300,000 people with combat experience, however, reports in Russian media put the true number of conscripts as high as 1.2 million.

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The MoD’s analysis said: “On 29 September 2022, President Putin addressed his National Security Council on the ‘partial mobilisation’ he had announced on 21 September.

“He said, ‘a lot of questions are being raised during this mobilisation campaign, and we must promptly correct our mistakes and not repeat them.’

“Putin’s unusually rapid acknowledgement of problems highlights the dysfunction of the mobilisation over its first week. Local officials are likely unclear on the exact scope and legal rationale of the campaign.”

According to the MoD, the Russian authorities “have almost certainly drafted some personnel who are outside the definitions claimed by Putin and the Ministry of Defence”.

“As drafted reservists continue to assemble at tented transit camps, Russian officials are likely struggling to provide training and in finding officers to lead new units.”

Earlier this week, the military commissar of Russia's Khabarovsk region was sacked after half of the new recruits in his were sent home because they did not meet the draft criteria, according to a statement from the region's governor, Mikhail Degtyarev.

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