Ex-U.S. General Casts Doubt Over Size of Putin's Newly Mobilized Army

Former U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges said Monday that he is "skeptical" over 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 counteroffensive attack 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 and Ukraine readies 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 fighting. Ukrainian officials have grown increasingly worried that Russia will launch a second mobilization, adding up to 500,000 new soldiers to the front lines.

In a video interview with the Kyiv Post, Hodges said he doubts that Putin's newly mobilized soldiers will reach the 500,000 number.

"No doubt Russia is out looking for new bodies to replace the tens of thousands that have already been killed the last few months," Hodges said. "I would be quite surprised if they were able to get even half of 500,000."

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen. The Russian leader launched a partial mobilization in September, making Ukrainian officials fear that he will soon launch another. Former U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges said Monday that he was "skeptical" over the size of Putin's newly mobilized infantry. Getty

Hodges added that more bodies doesn't guarantee a stronger infantry. He explained that even if Russia was able to equip its new soldiers and have the resources to feed and accommodate them, training is a different story.

"Large number of troops does not necessarily equal capability for invasion," he said.

However, Hodges said he expects Russia is reporting such high numbers to cause worry about a large offensive in Ukraine from the north. He said the numbers could be inflated as part of a strategy to distract Ukraine to divert its resources to prepare for a newly bolstered offensive as the war nears its one-year anniversary later this month.

In his interview with the newspaper, Hodges also voiced support for the U.S. sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to aid in the war against Russia. However, President Joe Biden said that he won't be sending the highly-coveted jets to the war-torn country.

Hodges said Russia's only advantage in the war is its "mass number" of infantry and artillery systems. With access to F-16s, Ukrainian troops could decimate Russian infrastructure, transportation, ammunition and headquarters, effectively negating the effect of the new troops. F-16s could be used to ensure ammunition never reaches the artillery systems or the troops.

"If you can negate those things, it doesn't matter how many troops that the Russians may mobilize or put out there if the ammunition can't get to them," Hodges said.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.