Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Putin says Ukraine mobilisation should be finished in two weeks

Putin says Ukraine mobilisation should be finished in two weeks

ASTANA (Reuters) - Russia should be finished calling up reservists in two weeks, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, promising an end to a divisive mobilization that has seen hundreds of thousands of men summoned to fight in Ukraine and huge numbers flee the country.

Putin also said Russia had no plans "for now" for more massive air strikes like those it carried out this week, in which it fired more than 100 long range missiles at targets across Ukraine.

Putin ordered the mobilization three weeks ago, part of a response to Russian battlefield defeats. He has also proclaimed the annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian provinces and threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Russia has since seen the first signs of public criticism of the authorities since the war began and officials have acknowledged some mistakes. Members of ethnic minorities and rural residents have complained of being drafted at higher rates than ethnic Russians and city dwellers.

Defending the order, Putin said the front line was too long to defend solely with contract soldiers.

He said 222,000 out of an expected 300,000 reservists had already been mobilized. "This work is coming to an end," he told a news conference at the end of a summit in Kazakhstan. "I think that in about two weeks all the mobilization activities will be finished."

Since the mobilization order was given, Russian forces have continued to lose ground in eastern Ukraine and the south.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in his nightly video address, once again said Ukraine's forces would retake all of its territory.

"Yes, they still have people to throw on the battlefield, they have weapons, missiles, they have (Iranian-made) Shaheds which they use against Ukraine," he said. "They still have the possibility to terrorize our cities and all Europeans, blackmailing the world. But they have no chance of succeeding and will have none because Ukraine is moving forward."

Zelenskiy also said he had spoken to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. "We discussed possibilities for acting together in the interests of our countries and our peoples. I believe that the results we need are possible," he said, giving no details.