What to expect on May 9 – mobilization, the end of a special operation, or "extensions" Russia

There are so many conversations and opinions about what can happen on Victory Day … But everyone is sure that this day will not just pass. Let’s try to figure out the possible options.

Various sources have their own point of view. For example, a news agency CNN announced two days ago that on May 9, Putin could declare war on Ukraine (while a “special operation” is underway there). The journalists received such data from a reliable high-ranking source who refers to the intelligence services.

In the opinion of a high rank, Putin may announce significant achievements of the Russian military in Ukraine or an escalation. By the way, one does not interfere with the other at all. The most likely option, according to the source, is a declaration of war. That is, this word will come out of the shadows and officially take the place of “special operation”.

Such a step, writes CNN, firstly will increase the support of society, and secondly, it will become a reason for declaring mobilization. American officials argue that Russia is now in dire need of mobilization, but the issue, according to experts, is moot. Among other possible options for Victory Day, according to CNN, is the announcement of full control over the port of Mariupol, the annexation of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, and the beginning of an attack on Odessa.

Agree on annexation The Daily Mail and The Washington Post. They talk about Moscow’s plans to hold referendums, but shift their dates in their forecasts – from May 9 to the middle of the month. Dmitry Gudkov, a Russian oppositionist, also previously spoke of Moscow’s desire to announce on Victory Day the annexation of the DNR and LNR. The head Ukrainian intelligence Kirill Budanov believes that Russia will not succeed in capturing the entire Donbass by the holiday: “This is their goal, but it won’t happen, they don’t have time. They don’t have time in any way.” But the announcement of mobilization on May 9, the head of the GUR believes, is a very likely option. And confirms this with the available data:

“Rosrezerv began to check what they actually have in stock and calculate what they can give out for mobilization orders. This is an absolutely necessary step before starting a real mobilization.”

Pope Francis made a completely unexpected forecast – he said in an interview with Corriere della Sera, referring to the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, that on Victory Day Vladimir Putin would announce the end of the special operation in Ukraine. Literally, the pontiff said:

“Orban, when I met him, told me that the Russians have a plan that everything will end on May 9. I hope this is so … Because now it’s not just Donbass, it’s Crimea, it’s Odessa, it takes the Black Sea from Ukraine port, that’s all. I’m pessimistic, but we must do everything we can to stop the war.”

The meeting took place not so long ago, on April 21… And now, having dealt with the existing options, let’s try to determine their realism.

General mobilization

This option causes skepticism of military experts. Now Russia is replenishing its troops by expanding the recruitment of contract soldiers. The authorities stated that they did not plan to conduct mobilization for a “special military operation”. But talk about her hovered all this time. They especially intensified after expert assessments that the general grouping of Russian troops, which is now conducting an offensive in Ukraine, is significantly inferior in size to the Ukrainian army. This is contrary to the laws of war, according to which the attackers should have a 2-3-fold advantage in manpower.

But Moscow is in no hurry to mobilize. The main reason is the low level of training of the mobilization reserve. Training in military specialties at the proper level takes months, and without this it makes no sense to throw an untrained mass into battle. By the way, Ukraine has the same problems, so the mass mobilization of those who have not served before is not carried out globally in the country. Oleg Zhdanov, a Ukrainian military expert, says there is little chance of a general mobilization in Russia:

“I don’t think it will happen. Firstly, what should they do with general mobilization? Yes, according to various estimates, Russia can call up to 18 million mobilization reserves. But what to do with so many people in the army? Where can one get so many weapons? They need to be clothed, fed, armed, etc. Therefore, I think that there will be no general mobilization in Russia. In military terms, this does not make sense, but in economic terms, it will be very difficult for Russia itself.”

In addition, mobilization may have an adverse effect on public opinion in Russia. Now it is mainly contract soldiers who are fighting, hence the support for the “special operation”. If hundreds of thousands of reservists are called up and sent to the front, then the attitude of Russians to the war can quickly change.

However, so far these are only theoretical assumptions, in the absence of an accurate understanding of the plans of the Russian Federation and the real number of deaths. If the plans extend to the previously announced territories – the Donbass and the entire south of Ukraine, including Odessa, then the war can really last a long time. So in this case, partial, at least, mobilization and training of personnel for the tasks set for the fall make sense. Theoretically, mobilization can be announced on May 9, in practice, covert mobilization is already underway.

Declaration of war

There is a formal reason – the accusation of Ukraine in delivering strikes on Russian territory. There is also a second factor – massive Western military assistance to Kyiv, which gives reason to say: the war is against “the whole of NATO.” A declaration of war will help justify various extraordinary measures within your country, such as sending conscripts to the front or partial mobilization, and will also provide an opportunity to transfer the economy to a war footing.

Indeed, Victory Day is a very convenient date for declaring war and mobilization, but whether Moscow will do it is hard to say. In addition, the May 9 format implies victory reports, and not the official start of hostilities. A declaration of war would be an acknowledgment of the actual failure of the “special operation” in Ukraine.

Accession of territories

It is physically impossible to hold referendums and declare accession. As an option, you can announce the beginning of this process, or at least plans for the LDNR and other areas. But the war continues, and before Victory Day it is hardly possible to fully occupy the Donbass, as well as the Kherson, Kharkov or Zaporozhye regions. And haste in holding referendums can only put a fat cross on any negotiations with Ukraine. So while in this issue there are more “against” than “for”.

Completion of the special operation.

It becomes obvious that before Victory Day, Russian troops are unlikely to achieve any major previously announced goal – for example, in the Donbass. Therefore, count on the statement of the Pope… But everything depends on the real plans of Vladimir Putin. If he wants to limit himself to establishing control over the entire territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, after which he announces the end of the “special operation” and invites Ukraine to formalize the new situation with a peace agreement, this is one thing. In this case, there is no point in declaring war or mobilization. In the presence of more ambitious plans, broad and long-term, any of the above options is theoretically possible.

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