The impact of “partial” mobilization

Maxim Mironov (IB Business School) and Oleg Itskhoki (UCLA) published a brief article about the impact of the “Partial” mobilization on Russian society. It has some profound implications for society and individuals. We will discuss these implications in the next post. In this post, we reproduce the article here below. We consider this is an important study.

Note: Original article is here



1. Within the next six months, there will be an attempt to mobilize between 700,000 and 1 million people.

2. We estimate the target group among which the first draft will be carried out to be 2-3 million people. In total, the probability of being drafted among members of this group exceeds 25%.

We estimate the expected losses during the first six months among the conscripts at 60-70%. We estimate that 15-20% of these losses will be killed, and 45-50% will be wounded.

4. The demographic damage from the war in Ukraine to the Russian population will be many times greater than the damage from the covid pandemic.

5. We expect two waves of crime surge. The first wave will be associated with those returning from the war. The second wave will be orphans who will grow up without fathers.

6. Sabotage of conscription and all methods of evading military service is an optimal strategy at the individual level and makes it impossible to conscript significantly more young men. But this strategy does not significantly alter the number of draftees in the first months of the campaign and thus avoids the loss of life associated with it.

Disclaimer 1. The authors of this article are economists, not military men. Our military experience is limited to two years of training in the military department and one month of military training camps. Therefore, all conclusions of this article are based mainly on economic logic and practicality.

Disclaimer 2. Accurate figures on the number of the Russian grouping, losses, planned mobilization, etc., have never been published. There are only estimates. We will rely on the figures that we believe to be the most reliable.

1. At the beginning of the war, the total grouping of Russian troops was estimated at 200,000. Since the spring, the authorities have been actively recruiting citizens to serve on short-term contracts to replace those killed and wounded. It is not known how many new contract servicemen were recruited or how many were mobilized to the LNR/DNR. In June, British intelligence estimated Russian army losses at 20,000. We assume that by the end of September, this figure will be 35,000-40,000. Assuming the ratio of the killed to wounded is 1 to 3, the total losses of the Russian grouping by the end of September are about 150,000 people. Assuming that at least as many were drafted as dropped out, we get a lower limit of 150,000 recruits during this time. Even the surviving and healthy soldiers in the original grouping need to be replaced soon because they cannot fight without rest.

How many soldiers would have to be drafted to replace the 350,000? Mostly professional contract soldiers were sent to Ukraine at the beginning of the war. Then they recruited motivated people who wanted to serve. Mobilization implies the conscription of non-professionals who do not wish to serve, which means their efficiency will be several times lower than that of professional servicemen. To make up for the losses, two to three times as many people would have to be drafted as the original grouping, i.e. 700,000-1,000,000,000 people.

There was a lot of controversy on social networks about what figure was actually in the decree’s 7th “secret” paragraph. We believe there is no point in these arguments. The authorities will draft as many as it takes. They can change the figure in the decree at any moment as necessary. We should not start from a formal figure in the decree but the requirements. As shown, we estimate the need to be much higher than the official figure of 300,000.

2. We believe that the central part of the draft will go to young people between 20 and 30. Older citizens, first, are in worse physical shape. Second, they are more likely to have children and social ties. The potential costs of conscripting them to the government are much higher than those of young people.

Because of the demographic hole of the 1990s and early 2000s, there are now only 7.3 million men aged 20-29 in Russia. Mobilization is more likely aimed at those who have served their time. In recent years about 250,000 men per year have been drafted. If you consider that some of them remained to serve under the contract, and some of them became unfit for service due to different reasons, we get a potential pool of draftees of 200.000 for each year or about 2 million men of 20-29 years old. If we increase the target age to 35, we get a pool of about 3 million men.

By pushing the expected mobilization rate of 700,000 to 1,000,000, we get a draft probability for those who meet the target criteria above 25% within six months.

This probability is unevenly distributed across the regions. Poor and remote regions will conscript more, and wealthy cities will conscript less to avoid protests. After the first days of mobilization, we can see that the authorities follow this tactic, so in poor regions, there is a significant probability of people outside the target category being drafted.

3. the expected casualties among the newly mobilized will be higher than those of the regular army, primarily because they have worse physical training, lack of motivation, and extremely short training periods. Training a military takes time and resources. The Russian authorities currently do not have enough officers, equipment, or time to train the mobilized personnel. The mobilized people will be sent to the front after a few months of training (probably in a few weeks), essentially as cannon fodder. Losses will be comparable to those of the DNR troops – according to British intelligence estimates, as of June (3.5 months into the war), they had 55% of their original strength. We can assume that in the next six months, the losses among the Russian mobilized may amount to 60-70%. Of these, 15-20% are killed and 45-50% wounded.

4. covid excess death toll in Russia was 1 million people. However, covid primarily hit people over 60 who had already given birth, raised their children and often finished their professional careers. The war in Ukraine will cause the loss of about 500,000 dead and wounded (many of whom will be permanently disabled) in a year. These men of the most productive age have their entire working and social lives ahead of them. The killed and wounded make up a significant percentage of this age group. There are now 13 million men in Russia between 20 and 34 years of age. In addition to service, several hundred thousand men of this age could decide (or have already decided) to emigrate. Altogether, Russia could lose more than 10% of men in the 20-29-year-old category.

5. Those who have returned from war have many mental problems – post-traumatic syndrome in the military. In Russia, it was the “Afghan” and “Chechen syndrome” in recent decades. The scale of losses in Ukraine has already exceeded both the Afghan and Chechen wars. After the end of the war, Russia faces a surge in crime. Also, a significant number of children, especially in poor regions, will be left without fathers, leading to a new wave of crime in 5-10 years, when these children will be teenagers.

6. Independent Russian human rights activists, journalists and politicians suggest sabotaging the draft by all means, from going abroad to not fulfilling the requirements of draft commissions. Of course, this is a minimal resistance strategy to avoid additional loss of life in the criminal war unleashed by the Putin regime in Ukraine. In addition, this strategy exhausts the resources of the state enforcement mechanism and, in the medium term, will not allow a significant increase in the scale of the draft. Unfortunately, this strategy does not significantly change the number of conscripts in the first months of the campaign. Because the draft potential is high, the more informed and well-to-do young people will evade serving in the army at the expense of their less well-off peers. Consequently, such a strategy does not avoid the massive and senseless loss of human life associated with sending hundreds of thousands of conscripts to the war in Ukraine. Thus, Russian civil society now faces a choice between a mass protest against mobilization and war and the loss of tens of thousands of young lives.


Oleg Itzhoki – professor of economics at UCLA

Maxim Mironov – Professor of Finance at IE Business School

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