Kamil Galeev on Russian Mobilization – TTG

Comment: This is an abridged (by me) version of a Twitter thread by Kamil Galeev. His bio from the Wilson Center says this about him:

“Kamil Galeev is an independent researcher and a journalist residing in Moscow. His main focus of interest is the identity politics in post-Soviet Russia, the ethnification of Russian nationalism and the crackdown on the ethnic republics. Galeev completed a Master’s in Economics and Management at Peking University China and then an MLitt in History at St Andrews, the UK. He is an activist of political opposition, briefly incarcerated for participation in the 2020 protests.”

If he was writing these threads while still residing in Moscow, he’d have real stones… and would most assuredly be in a prison camp by now.  I believe he’s safely in Washington DC right now. Nevertheless, he writes some interesting stuff. This piece deals with the question of Russian full military mobilization, how it developed, where it stands now and why it is unlikely to be invoked tomorrow.  

The full version of this and other Twitter threads by Galeev are available at:  https://threadreaderapp.com/user/kamilkazani or for the full Twitter experience use: @kamilkazani

May 9, the Victory Day is a crucial symbolic date. We should expect the Victory Parade and Putin’s speech to the nation on that day. What is he gonna say? Many are pondering whether he will:

1. Declare war on Ukraine

2. Declare mass mobilisation in Russia

Let’s start with the question – why Putin didn’t declare the war on Ukraine yet? Well, probably because he didn’t expect any serious resistance. Kremlin planned for another Czechoslovakia 1968 and was very much surprised it didn’t happen. Hence the “Special Operation” terminology. Planning for another pacification of an East European satellite state, Moscow unexpectedly got into a major war it didn’t prepare for. Since they didn’t prepare for a war, they declared neither a war, nor a martial law. Which had major consequences for the course of this war

Russian state policies may not be legal. But they absolutely are procedural. It is a machine acting according to an algorithm. More specifically, the war and the martial law are largely regulated by the algorithm described in 30.01.2002 г. № 1-ФКЗ. Which has not been activated. As the martial law algorithm was not activated, procedurally speaking Russia is now in peace. Thus all the peacetime procedures are still valid. In practical terms, it means that the army, the National Guard and other contractors can just leave their job. See Strelkov’s lament.

Many either leave their jobs or refuse to go to war. According to Russian media, dozens or hundreds of Krasnodar OMON, Crimean marines, Pskov airborne, soldiers from South Ossetia, Hakas National Guard refused to fight. Watch a dialogue of a National Guard boss with his fighters.

Some commanders try to destroy the record of the military who quit, putting  special notes or stamps into their military IDs (военный билет), personnel files, etc. That however has little effect on your future unless you plan to work for the state. Besides, you can sue them.

Those troops who already departed to war and were later returned, refused to go again. For example, after the VDV were massacred in Ukraine, around 100 airborne from Pskov who were returned home from Belarus, refused to go to the war again. In practical terms that means that the ability of Russia to regroup, withdrawing its forces from the North (Kyiv) in order to send everyone to the East (Donbas) was probably exaggerated. Many of those who have already been to Ukraine and were returned to Russia simply won’t go again.

The situation with conscripts is a bit different. Technically sending conscripts to Ukraine is illegal. And yet, they did it of course. Russian state basically admitted it, and Putin ordered the military prosecutors to “investigate the case”. My prediction: no army boss will be punished. Putin using conscripts in a foreign war was very predictable. Since at least the New Year, the Soldiers Mothers NGO was getting tons of calls from concerned parents whose conscripted sons were transferred to the Ukrainian border. There were so many of them, it couldn’t be a drill.

“Go and take them from there” a secretary of the Soldiers’ Mothers would tell. “Or just tell them to run away, hide somewhere and write complaints to the military prosecutors”

“But not a single daughter of a bitch, not a single son of a bitch didn’t go anywhere” she concludes.

In other words, parents of conscripted soldiers could totally use the procedural nature of the Russian state to prevent their sons from being sent to Ukraine. Nobody did. Why? Partly because of the lack of agency. Russian state extirpated any forms of agency for centuries. The uprooted sense of agency and personal responsibility is an elephant in the room. After this war Russians will need a rehabilitation course to regain them again. But such a rehabilitation is incompatible with the existence of the Russian state which uprooted them in the first place.

Dismantling of the Russian state is necessary not only for preventing further attempts of imperial restoration and thus large military conflicts but as a necessary condition for a rehabilitation which would restore the sense of agency and personal responsibility.

Majority of the Russian population believe they can’t do anything, their personal actions have no impact and the best they can do is submit. Which is not wrong. In such massive empire their voice has no weight and no impact. Thus the empire must be dismantled to smaller polities.

Tsars, Communists, Putin, all worked hard to uproot the personal agency in Russia. Navalny and company will work even harder, should they take power. Dismantling the empire will scale the politics down which is a prerequisite for people regaining the feeling that their actions matter.

Interpreting Russian politics in terms of “Putin vs Russian people” dichotomy is an awful approach. Why? Because Putin is a subject while the “Russian people” are not. They are merely an abstraction that allows an autocrat and a gang of courtiers to legitimize their rule. “Russian people” doesn’t exist as a subject, it’s a tool for the legitimization of an autocracy. Right now Putin legitimized his power by pretending to represent the “Russian people” with no agency. Should the regime change happen, Navalny and his courtiers will do the same.

Now let’s return to the prospects of a total or partial mobilization which may be declared on May 9. The problem with the total mobilization is that Russia has no capacity to do it properly. The USSR could, while Russia absolutely can’t Soviet military doctrine was designed for the total mobilization. In practical terms it meant that the army and the military infrastructure was ready for the quick and enormous expansion of its ranks and the huge inflow of untrained or poorly trained conscripts.

The Soviet Army had way more officers in its divisions than it needed to lead the peacetime number of soldiers. Why? Because after the mobilization the ranks of the army (and of its divisions) would expand quickly and now it would need those extra officers to command new recruits.

Furthermore, the Soviet army maintained a costly infrastructure of training facilities (to train soldiers) and of military schools (to train officers). As the cadre officers would suffer heavy casualties, the USSR had to train new officers from civilians in those schools. Anecdotally, one Soviet artillery officer recalled how he was recruited. During the WWII a group of newly mobilised recruits were told to sit down and write “синус” (sinus). Those who wrote “sin” were sent to the officer schools, while those who couldn’t – to foot soldier ranks.

The Soviet Union maintained a massive infrastructure in case of a world war and mass mobilization. And yet, it was super costly and made little sense in the absence of such a war. Much of it declined in the 1990s and whatever remained was dismantled during the Serdyukov’s reforms. Minister Serdyukov launched a sensible reform to create a professional (contractor) army always ready for a conflict. In practice however it meant that the military doctrine changed and the new one didn’t include an option of a mass mobilization at all. Facilities to train the gargantuan number of soldiers and officers from recruits are closed. Extra officers in existing divisions who would lead those recruits into battle were fired. Many of cadre officers Russia still has are now in Ukraine and many are already KIA.

To sum up. Russia has the capacity to draft the enormous number of recruits via a mass mobilization. It has no capacity to train them, provide them with required equipment or with officers’ leadership. Which means that a mass mobilization would be a really dumb decision. Declaring a mass mobilization would be dumb. And yet, that does *not* mean that Putin wouldn’t do it. He can. As a general rule, prognosing a leader’s decisions based on “common sense” or on “logic” is largely counterproductive. A leader absolutely can do something dumb.


This entry was posted in Russia, The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Kamil Galeev on Russian Mobilization – TTG

  1. Worth Pointing Out says:

    States do not “declare war” any more. As far as I know not a single state of the United Nations has declared war after becoming a party to the Charter of the United Nations.

    To “declare war” is to stand in violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

    To “declare war” is to issue a declaratory statement that you are no longer “refraining” from the use of force to resolve a dispute with another nation.

    Because, let’s face it, what else is a “Declaration of War” if it isn’t an official statement that you have decided to pick up the Big Stick? And what is that if it isn’t a definitive f**k-you to Article 2(4) of the UN Charter?

    The Russians may or may not decide to mobilize their forces. That’s up to them, and to do so violates nothing.

    But the Russians won’t “declare war”. To do so is to tear up the UN Charter, and they won’t do that while the Russians still see some utility in the United Nations.

  2. Leith says:

    I follow kamilkazani’s twitter threads. He has a lot of good background information. And most of what he has said in other threads have turned out true. I read him with a grain of salt though as being Tatar he may have a bias.

    I agree with his contention that Putin won’t do a general mobilization, but may mobilize in selected areas. Places that are far from Moscow and Leningrad. Probably in Siberia in ethnic minority Oblasts. Or in those areas contiguous to southeastern Ukraine.

    And I also agree with him about any impending coup against Putin. If (or when) it comes, it won’t be by the Russian people. And it won’t be by dissenters such as those in Navalny’s party or similar political parties in opposition to Putin. If it comes it will be by hardliners, members of his inner circle.

  3. Tidewater says:

    I think the problem that Kamil Ganeev will have for the rest of his career if he continues writing about the Ukraine in the time-frame of the coup d’etat and this war is the extraordinary fact that Putin has gotten hold of something that might just turn out to be better than the Mitrokhin Archive. He now has the complete OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Archive, which was found by the DPR militia abandoned in Mariupol. I suspect that it has to be one of the most interesting and remarkable collections of accounts of crime in the entire annals of crime. This is documentation made by teams of Western investigators sent in 2014 to keep a close watch on human rights in Ukraine. The field reports include investigations into thousands of war crimes, which are now alleged to have been documented but not reported. This archive includes videos, photographic evidence, police reports, and witness testimony; it surely must be the all-important foundation for any historical writing about what happened in that country in these past eight or more years.

    What this means, for example, is this: Suppose a writer discusses the murder of the historian Vladimir Shchukin (May 2021) and the subsequent trial and freeing of his killer, who seems to me to have been a kind of a 19- year- old Brown Shirt, who may have actually pushed his way into Shchukin’s house. It follows that anyone who ventures anything at all about this case (including at this moment, me) will most likely have the OSCE Archive hanging over his or her head to keep them clean. My guess would be that the trial had to be another one of these Ukrainian NAZI outrages but then, I have not seen the OSCE Archive, and unless it is downloaded on the internet–Putin’s neutron bomb!–I don’t think I ever would.

    When Ganeev says things like Putin was “planning for another pacification of an East European satellite state, Moscow unexpectedly got into a major war it didn’t prepare for” I just have to wonder–isn’t it the other way around? Weren’t we the ones who got caught? And I don’t even recognize what he says is going on. What is he talking about? You would hardly know that 80 percent of Russians have enough “agency” left to poll in favor of the war. This guy sounds like he might have the same sort of CRT hangup about “Greater Russian chauvinism ” that Lenin had (otherwise known as ‘get up and go’ which won the Black Sea coast in the first place, if after twelve wars). Wasn’t that why Donbas was put in the new Ukraine state to begin with, to dilute out the Muscovite chauvinism to help soothe the ethnics? Ganeev sounds Woke to me. But I tell you what, he gonna have to be careful. He’s got that OSCE Archive hanging over his head when he starts his bullshit about Czechoslovakia 1968 and what it’s all about….


    • d74 says:

      Tidewater OSCE:
      I follow you in the beginnings of this case. No doubt that it will reveal the bias of the OSCE in favor of Ukraine. It is a real bureaucratic failure which makes them accomplices of crimes committed by men and women under Ukrainian uniform.
      The Russians and the LDNR have here a golden file, I hope that they will know how to use it thoroughly.

    • TTG says:


      There were over 50 Russians on the OSCE SMM. I doubt there were many secrets not already known to Moscow.

    • James says:

      To compare the Czechoslovakia of 1968 with a country whose leadership was avowedly anti-Moscow, which had 8 years to prepare for war with Moscow, which was receiving advanced weaponry from various NATO countries, and which had US forces in country training military personnel on how to fight the looming war with Moscow … seems like a bit of a stretch to me.

      I think that things certainly didn’t go as well as Moscow expected – but I don’t think the Russian generals expected it to be THAT much of a cakewalk.

  4. walrus says:

    The problem here TTG, is that your man sets up a false dichotomy in the opening paragraph. There are many other possibilities for Russian action, not just two.

    I like the way he slips in the concept of “The Russian Empire” and then proceeds to suggest Russia must be broken up to remove concentrated central power. By his standards then I presume he would want the USA, NATO, Five eyes, etc. broken up for exactly the same reason.

    • cobo says:

      I have never seen this as a real contest between Ukraine and Russia or even NATO vs Russia. To me it seems all stage management, and I think the USA/EU/Can/Aus are also being stage managed. As a native Californian, I’ve long considered our breaking free from the USA – we can totally do this… However, when I see it as all part of the deconstruction of civilization as it is to the benefit of the masters of the New World Order and its Great Reset, I consider further. From the quoted article concerning Czar/USSR/Russia”

      “Because Putin is a subject while the “Russian people” are not. They are merely an abstraction that allows an autocrat and a gang of courtiers to legitimize their rule. “Russian people” doesn’t exist as a subject, it’s a tool for the legitimization of an autocracy.
      – and Americans/Canadians/Australians -?

      Dismantling of the Russian state is necessary not only for preventing further attempts of imperial restoration and thus large military conflicts but as a necessary condition for a rehabilitation which would restore the sense of agency and personal responsibility.”
      – UN/WEF -?

  5. Fred says:

    “Dismantling of the Russian state is necessary ….”

    On to Moscow! The neocon dream redux.

    “Majority of the Russian population believe they can’t do anything, their personal actions have no impact and the best they can do is submit. ”

    I wonder if he has a take on Covid passports, (New Zealand, France, etc) social credit systems (China, nothing to see there but corporate profit for years to come), and electronic money?

    “Russia has the capacity to draft the enormous number of recruits… It has no capacity to train them, provide them with required equipment or with officers’ leadership. Which means that a mass mobilization would be a really dumb decision.”

    “Can’t” seems to be the favorite word of a lot of ‘analsysts’ out there.

  6. English Outsider says:

    Well, if Galeev’s right and the Russian people do have such an appalling government as he says, all one can say to them as a European is “join the club”. I can think of no European country that isn’t in the same case. I’m not sure that in the proxy war we are at present engaged in with Russia we Europeans can take our ground on the alleged superiority of our governance to theirs.

    As a matter of hard fact, however, the Russians aren’t doing too badly, given that they’re still pulling themselves out of the looting and disintegration of the ’90’s.

    But is this not all beside the point? We are not at war with Russia because we are asserting their politics is a mess. We are at war with them because they invaded the Ukraine.

    We do not ask ourselves the question, what else could they have done? Given that the alternative for them was to watch passively while neonazi fanatics had another go at killing or expelling the ethnic Russians living in the Donbas.

    • James says:

      English Outsider,

      I would submit that the problems for the Russian economy have shifted from the effects of “the looting and disintegration of the ’90’s” to the effects of the widespread sanctions that western nations have put on Russia.

      • English Outsider says:

        James – moving firmly away from the rights and wrongs of this war I’ve never seen such a mess as we Europeans have made in waging it.

        You’re aware that it’s only the Americans who have the military muscle to take on Russia. No disrespect to the fine armed forces of France, or of my own country, but they’re not up to taking on the Russians. And obviously aren’t going to try.

        So we’re left with a sanctions war. This has been conducted so ineptly! Obviously it was again the Americans in the main who had the heavy guns in the financial war but that financial war hasn’t worked.

        So as far as Europe is concerned it’s now down to damaging the reciprocal trade between Russia and Europe. That is the European weapon of choice in this war. We’re now wielding that weapon enthusiastically. Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition – ‘Every time you turn off your hot shower water – say “Take that, Putin!” ‘

        Not that brilliant a way of starting Barbarossa II. If we Europeans want to get really aggressive we can wear extra pullovers and turn the thermostat down. While watching industry and agriculture, both heavily reliant on Russian inputs, go to pot.

        I don’t think Mrs Nabiullina is whistling in the dark when she says that the Russians have taken a knock, certainly, as a result of that reduction of reciprocal trade. But they won’t be disabled by those European trade sanctions. The European weapon of choice isn’t going to fuss Putin too much.

        So it’s the Euros themselves, Johnson bumbling along somehow and pushing it all on, who are going to be the main victims of the sanctions they’re imposing on Russia. And if the Russians choose – they haven’t yet and for various reasons may not – they can administer the coup de grace any time they please.

        Inept? Eventually the peoples of Europe will discover that their economies have been wrecked because their politicians took it into their heads to support a bunch of neonazis. And don’t think anything good will come out of that discovery. The resultant social disruption in Europe will not be beneficial or constructive.

  7. Whitewall says:

    “In such massive empire their voice has no weight and no impact. Thus the empire must be dismantled to smaller polities.”
    Sounds like what we might call ‘federalism’. For a people like the Russians who have always been ruled and not governed, this may be a tall order. Lack of ‘agency’ is very hard to reverse. It causes a great many powerful people to lose power and wealth.

  8. Barbara Ann says:


    Where do you find these people? This guy is, as you describe, “safely in Washington DC” where no doubt he feels right at home among fellow woke identity politicians and the Russiaphobic Neocons who agree that the Russian state should be “dismantled”. I was surprised not to find pronouns in his Twitter bio.

    A sample tweet from this gentleman: “Heavy participation of minorities in Z-war is well-known. And yet, in Ukraine they’re fighting for the alien ideology which they don’t share. They’re following the orders of Moscow. Therefore, stripping Moscow of any ability to give them orders is vital for the future peace”. Ah yes, the alien ideology of nationalism – alien to the globalists whose imperative is to destroy every last nationalist bastion in order to herald the NWO of Utopian world government.

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do

    • TTG says:

      Barbara Ann,

      He did some threads about this. His point is that what Putin tries to pawn off as Russian nationalism is really imperial Russian colonialism which then transformed into the USSR. The USSR tried to recast the empire as the new soviet man rather than the different nations subsumed under the empire and the union. So Putin is trying to paper over his multi-culti empire as Russian nationalism.

      • Barbara Ann says:

        Yes, nationalism extended beyond one’s own nation becomes imperialism or colonialism. February 24th exposed Putin’s pan-Slavic leanings for all to see – and those of the ‘404’ crowd. But do you agree with Galeev that Moscow should be stripped of “any ability to give [Russia’s ethnic minorities] orders” – i.e the RF (or “multi-culti empire” as you term it) should be dismantled and Balkanized? I wish David Habakkuk was still contributing here, I am sure he’d have something to say on this matter.

        • TTG says:

          Barbara Ann,

          If some of those former Soviet Republics want independence, why not? If they want a more federalized relationship with Moscow, not in name only, they should be allowed that. OTOH, if they want to be as closely tied to Russia as Lukashenko’s Belarus, so be it. Some of the ethnic groups may also want a more federalized relationship, more like Nunavut.

  9. Sam says:

    Vladimir Solovyov, one of Putin’s most-prominent puppets, moaned last week about the ‘shameful’ length of time it takes for weapons to reach the front while guests on Russian state TV talk shows complained that men are being sent into battle ‘with weapons of yesteryear’ and the Russian economy cannot sustain the war.


    It appears some in Moscow aren’t happy with the progress of the war.

  10. glupi says:

    Divide et Impera

Comments are closed.