President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia should be finished calling up reservists in two weeks, putting an end to a controversial mobilization that has seen hundreds of thousands of men called up to fight in Ukraine and a large number depart the country.
Putin said that Russia has no intentions “for now” for any large-scale airstrikes like the ones it conducted this week, in which it launched over 100 long-range missiles into Ukrainian targets.
Putin ordered the mobilization three weeks ago in reaction to Russian war failures.
Additionally, Putin has declared the annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian territories and made nuclear weapons threats.
Since the start of the conflict, Russia has witnessed the first indications of widespread public criticism of the government, and officials there have admitted to making some errors. In comparison to ethnic Russians and city inhabitants, members of ethnic minorities and rural residents have complained about being drafted at higher rates.
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.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, reiterated that all of its land will be retaken in his nightly video address.
He said, “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 .”
Zelenskyy said that he had spoken with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. “We discussed possibilities for acting together in the interests of our countries and our peoples. I believe that the results we need are possible.
The U.S. government accused the Saudis of kowtowing to Russia – as it wages the war in Ukraine – when the OPEC+ oil producer group it leads announced this month it would cut its oil production target.
A Western official said some of the newly mobilized Russian troops were already on the battlefield taking casualties, and that their presence was unlikely to turn the tide. “It is clear that they have been fielded with very, very limited training and very, very poor equipment,” the official said.
The official also suggested Russia had too few missiles to sustain attacks like those this week: “Russia is rapidly exhausting its supply of long-range precision munitions, in particular its air-launched cruise missiles.”