In the conflict with Ukraine since February 24, Russia has never officially declared war on its neighbor. Any change in terminology, possible on the occasion of the symbolic date of May 9, would have disastrous consequences.
War for what? While Westerners wonder about a possible declaration by Vladimir Putin to enter war with Ukraine on May 9, the date of the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, what would that declaration change? Because if Russia and Ukraine have been in conflict since February on September 24, Moscow has not yet made any official declaration of war on its neighbor. Hence, announcing this way would push the conflict to a new stage.
Will May 9 mark a new stage in the Russian invasion of Ukraine? If the question remains open, then the declaration of war by Vladimir Putin constitutes an act recognized in international law.
Such a declaration would first allow Vladimir Putin to launch a “general mobilization” among the Russian population in order to fight the Ukrainians, notes Colonel Michel Goya, BFMTV’s defense adviser.
The adviser recalls that until now, if the Russians are well engaged militarily on the ground, then they are only “volunteers”. He said Russia “cannot employ conscripts” until it officially enters the war.
But Michel Goya cautioned about the immediate contribution of such mobilization. “On paper, there are two million reservists who can be mobilized in case of war. In fact, among those two million people, none are trained and trained and the reservist is in tatters,” he estimates.
There is no official human toll, but some Western sources have reported that up to 12 thousand Russian soldiers have been killed since the conflict began, while NATO is talking about the deaths of between 7 thousand and 15 thousand men on the Russian side. Big losses for Moscow, which may need new weapons.
The waging of war would also allow Russia to enter into a war economy. “On ne sait pas quel l’état des moyens (de Vladimir Poutine) pour le moment, mais il a perdu déjà beaucoup. (Entrer en guerre) pourrait l’aider”, estime Sylvie Bermann, diplomate consultante BFMTV, ancienne ambassadrice de France In Russia.
Indeed, the war economy would allow the Russian head of state to control the management and mobilization of economic resources as a priority for financing the war effort.
Patrick Seuss, BFMTV’s international relations specialist, recalls in this regard that at least 125 missiles have been launched since the conflict began, a trend now downward. The launch of a war economy is likely to allow Moscow to finance, among other things, more missiles.
A declaration of war would also allow Russia to mobilize its allies more forcefully, notably through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) created in 2002 of which Moscow is a member. And the politico-military organization of which Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia are members, already provides in Article 4 that in the event of an assault by one of the members, the other members must assist him militarily.
Changing the Kremlin narrative framework?
However, declaring war will not be easy for Moscow, which has so far been striving to talk about a special operation or an external operation when it talks about fighting with Ukraine.
“Is it politically significant? I’m not sure,” asks Sylvie Berman, diplomatic advisor at BFMTV.
“It will change the whole story of the Kremlin,” said Oleg Ignatov, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to preventing and resolving deadly conflicts. The expert believes that by talking about the war, Russia will openly acknowledge the difficulties it is facing in Ukraine.
The announcement could also have negative consequences for Russian public support in the conflict. Many civilians approve of the operation, but, not wanting to go to the front, Oleg Ignatov advanced.
Despite the speculation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized that Moscow is not seeking to end the conflict in Ukraine by that date.