Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Ukraine is experiencing its first demobilization in 18
months. Initially it was planned to release more than 50 thousand troops, to be
replaced by 52 thousand of the fourth wave of mobilization. Many of the 90-100
thousand troops drawn into the UAF in the fall of 2013 or the spring of 2014
are no longer on the rolls. Some died, others demobilized due to health issues
(there are many of those), some are missing or deserters. Therefore a new
intake of 50 thousand was justifiable on the basis of actual losses of the UAF.
The implementation of these plans quickly became impossible
due to the collapse of the fourth wave. So far only 30 thousand were inducted,
and their quality is abysmal (up to a third are openly announcing their desire
to surrender at the first opportunity). The continuation of mobilization, whose
target was lowered to only 40 thousand, causes doubts even among the most
hardened supporters of the Kiev regime. Tsenzor.net chief editor Yuriy Butusov
is one of them. Therefore one has to start changing demobilization plans. They
are already saying that no more than 30 thousand soldiers will be demobilized.
If more troops leave, personnel strength will likely decrease.
It means that not everyone will be demobilized, only the
lucky ones. As of today, up to 9 thousand were demobilized ahead of schedule.
This is how the process seems to work:
1. If you are lucky, you won’t have to fight and you’ll be the
first to demobilize.
There are soldiers who can’t be sent to the front. Not because
they want or don’t want to fight, but because there aren’t enough weapons for
One of the first demobilizations affected the 26th
Berdichev Artillery Brigade. It demobilized about one thousand of its soldiers.
Everyone called up as part of the first wave was sent home.
The 26th Brigade is unique in the UAF. It is the
only unit to have heavy self-propelled artillery. During the entire time of
fighting, the brigade was only able to send one battalion to the front, out of
four available. It suffered heavy losses in both the summer and winter
campaigns. Several of its howitzers were lost or captured. They were not able
to bring into service any new equipment.
All the remaining Msta-S howitzers were consolidated in one
four-vehicle battery. There seems to be no prospect of finding replacements.
Therefore there is no point in keeping 1000 extra mouths to feed in the brigade—contract
soldiers are sufficient to operate what’s left. It also makes no sense to
transfer the soldiers to other brigades, because they too are short of
equipment. Therefore demobilization is the only option.
P.S. 200 soldiers returned to Sumy from the 27th
Rocket Artillery Regiment. This represents about a quarter of its personnel
strength, and more than a third of its mobilizees. The regiment lost 30-40
killed. Most were killed by a Smerch strike against their encampment (16
killed), which also destroyed 6 loading vehicles and 2 Uragan launchers. During
the summer an Uragan battery was destroyed south of Donetsk. The fourth
battalion is still without equipment (and it probably will remain that way),
therefore that unit can also safely demobilize.
2. Not everyone will be demobilized.
It was already announced that about 30 thousand will be demobilized.
Who are the lucky ones, and who the unlucky?
UAF leadership already made clear that if they can’t replace
you, you will not be demobilized. Therefore you’ll have to serve and serve and
serve until they find someone to take your place. The UAF will either offer
them service under contract, or will quickly find a replacement.
Furthermore, anyone undergoing medical treatment can also
have his demobilization delayed.
3. Demobilization and a new mobilization
This is another peculiarity which may occur during the next
wave of mobilization. Those who served since 2013 will become the first
candidates for the fifth wave of mobilization.
They are the easiest to find, and they had recent training.
So far they are not being demobilized for their own good,
otherwise they might be swept up by the fourth wave. But if Kiev introduces
martial law (which is probably already in the spring), they aren’t going
4. In civilian life.
Demobilized soldiers also have a mass of delayed problems in
civilian life. Many of them lost their health. Their socialization to civilian
life looks doubtful, and causes concerns among physicians and even the government.
They could care less about suicides, but the habit of solving problems through
violence and the ready availability of weapons which were unlawfully take out
of the war zone force one to hink.
Moreover, it’s hard to find work in Ukraine. The law on
military service says that the employer must keep the job available for the
returning soldier for a year. Many of the reservists were called up in March of last year, for them staying in
service for even a day means a loss of a job. And they can’t find a new one.
The Rada is considering a law that would extend the job
guarantee to 18 months. The flip side is that it can (and likely will) extend
the term of service to 18 months for those who “can’t be replaced”.
But in the meantime all of those who were unofficially
employed and those who didn’t make it back on time will lose their jobs (there
are already examples).
The demobilization is yet another test for the junta. The
soldiers can’t be held indefinitely. New legislation will only delay the
inevitable. The most recent battles show that the soldiers’ morale is very low,
which in combination with the low level of training yields minimal results at
Judging by everything, the morale situation is so
catastrophic that the junta will have to conduct mass demobilization to prevent
the apathy toward service from erupting into mutinies. The junta will try to
minimize its impact, but it will decrease the size and battleworthiness of the
UAF. I can’t imagine how the UAF leadership proposes to increase troops levels at
the front. And you can forget about their quality. Even maintaining current
numbers will be a challenge.
P.S. Poroshenko just gave the demobilizees another gift. Should
anything happen (and it might happen in the next month or two), they will be
called back into service as the best-trained ones.
“I am signing a decree on changes to the mobilization
reserve law. Everyone who performed well will be automatically included in the
ready reserve and kept on an electronic list.”
J.Hawk’s Comment: The junta has a genuine “use it or lose it”
incentive to try something in the next few months. Keeping unmotivated, unpaid
troops under arms leads to tragedies like Konstantinovka. Therefore they have
to be either sent home…or thrown one last time against Novorossia.
I wouldn’t put too much stock in the efforts to re-mobilize
the demobilizees. They’ve done their bit—why should they have to go and fight
yet again? Are there no other people available in the country? If you were
promised, back in 2014, that you’d have to serve for only one year and that was
it, you’d feel betrayed by your own government if it attempted to haul you in
for another year. And another, and another…