Ex-US general doubts size of Putin’s newly mobilized army
Former US Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said on Monday he was “skeptical” about the size of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s newly mobilized infantry.
In September, Putin demanded a partial mobilization to bolster his troops by 300,000 after Ukraine launched a strong counter-offensive in response to the Kremlin’s “special military operation”. Since then, progress has been limited on both sides during the harsh winter months. As the weather warms up and Ukraine prepares to receive various equipment from NATO allies such as Abrams tanks from the United States and Leopard tanks from Germany, Russia is also preparing for more combat . Ukrainian officials are increasingly concerned that Russia could launch a second mobilization, adding up to 500,000 new troops to the front lines.
In a video interview with the Kyiv PostHodges said he doubted Putin’s newly mobilized soldiers would reach the number of 500,000.
“There is no doubt that Russia is looking for new bodies to replace the tens of thousands of people who have already been killed in recent months,” Hodges said. “I would be quite surprised if they could get even half of 500,000.”
Hodges added that more corps does not guarantee stronger infantry. He explained that while Russia was able to equip its new soldiers and have the resources to feed and house them, training is another story.
“A large number of troops does not necessarily mean invasion capability,” he said.
However, Hodges said he expects Russia to report such high numbers to raise concerns about a major offensive into Ukraine from the north. He said the numbers could be inflated as part of a strategy to distract Ukraine from diverting its resources to prepare for a newly beefed up offensive as the war nears its first anniversary later this month. .
In his interview with the newspaper, Hodges also expressed support for the United States sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help in the war against Russia. However, President Joe Biden has said he will not send the coveted jets to the war-torn country.
Hodges said Russia’s only advantage in the war is its “massive numbers” of infantry and artillery systems. With access to F-16s, Ukrainian troops could decimate Russian infrastructure, transport, ammunition and headquarters, negating the effect of the new troops. F-16s could be used to ensure munitions never reach artillery systems or troops.
“If you can deny those things, it doesn’t matter how many troops the Russians can mobilize or send over there if the ammunition can’t get to them,” Hodges said.
Newsweek contacted the White House for comment.