Reservist called up during the partial mobilization, during a departure ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea, on September 27, 2022.Image REUTERS

    Video images are circulating on independent Russian sites illustrating the chaotic course of the mobilization. At an assembly point, reservists called up were told by an officer to arrange their own sleeping bags. “You get a uniform and armor, I have nothing else,” says the officer. “You have to bring your own things.”

    There are also no antidiarrhoeal drugs or pressure bandages (to stop the bleeding) available. ‘Ask your wife or mother for sanitary towels and tampons’, is the advice. “Do you know what to use a tampon for? Pushing it in if you have a gunshot wound will make it swell and stop the bleeding. I’ve known that since (the war in) Chechnya’, says the officer.

    In another video, a recalled reservist says they have been told they will be sent to the front immediately. ‘No training, no target practice, no theory, nothing!’, he notes indignantly. A woman from Lipetsk told the news site Nastoyashchee Vremja that her husband received a call at five o’clock in the morning last Thursday. At 07:00 he reported to the recruitment office, at 10:30 he was already on a bus to the border area and on Sunday he was sent to the front in the Donbas.

    The first brand new reservists are said to have already been taken prisoner of war by the Ukrainians. A Ukrainian site showed images of a 45-year-old man from Moscow who was sent to the front near Kupyansk, where he immediately fell into the hands of the Ukrainians.

    Hell of Grozny

    The situation is reminiscent of the beginning of the war in Chechnya in the 1990s, when Moscow also sent barely trained soldiers to the front. Young Russian POWs said they had only been on duty for a few weeks, firing only a handful of bullets, before being sent into the Hell of Grozny. There the first Russian troops, who were totally unprepared for a city war, were immediately crushed.

    To prevent demoralized Russian reservists from responding to Ukrainian calls to lay down their arms and surrender immediately, the Russian parliament last week introduced harsh penalties. Those who surrender without necessity could face 15 years in prison. Refusal of military service is 10 years.

    An Orthodox priest leads a service for reservists called up as part of the partial mobilization, during a ceremony of their departure to military bases, in Sevastopol.  Image REUTERS

    An Orthodox priest leads a service for reservists called up as part of the partial mobilization, during a ceremony of their departure to military bases, in Sevastopol.Image REUTERS

    Still, military experts question whether Russia will be able to fill the gaps left on the front line by the heavy casualties suffered by its troops in Ukraine recently. “You can’t fight iron with meat,” says a Ukrainian military expert, who puts his trust in the Western weapons that the Ukrainian army has been given.

    According to independent Russian media, the Kremlin plans to call in more than 600 thousand men over the next three months, on top of the first round of about 300 thousand reservists, but that seems unfeasible given the lack of equipment and the widespread protests against the mobilization.