Putin says mobilization in Ukraine should be over in two weeks


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ASTANA — Russia should be done calling up reservists in two weeks, President Vladimir Putin said Friday, pledging an end to a mobilization that has seen hundreds of thousands of men called up to fight in Ukraine and large numbers flee the country.

Putin also said Russia had no plans « for now » for more massive airstrikes like the ones it carried out this week, in which it fired more than 100 long-range missiles at targets. targets across Ukraine.

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

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Since the start of the war, Russia has seen the first signs of public criticism of the authorities, 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 order, Putin said the front line was too long to be defended with contract soldiers alone.

He said 222,000 of the expected 300,000 reservists had already been mobilized. « This work is coming to an end, » he told a press conference after a summit in Kazakhstan. « I think in about two weeks all mobilization activities will be completed. »

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

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in his nightly video address, once again said that Ukrainian forces would take back all of his territory.

« Yes, they still have people to throw on the battlefield, they have weapons, missiles, they have (Iranian-made) Shaheds that they are using against Ukraine, » he said. “They still have the possibility of terrorizing our cities and all Europeans, blackmailing the world. But they have no chance of succeeding and will have none as Ukraine advances.

Zelenskiy also said he spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “We discussed the possibilities of acting together in the interest of our countries and our peoples. I believe the results we need are possible,” he said, without giving details.

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The US government accused the Saudis of bowing to Russia – as it wages war in Ukraine – when the oil-producing group OPEC+ it leads announced this month that it would cut its target of oil production.


A Western official said some of the newly mobilized Russian troops were already on the battlefield, claiming casualties, and their presence was unlikely to turn the tide. “Clearly they were fielded with very, very limited training and very, very poor equipment,” the official said.

The official also suggested that Russia had too few missiles to sustain attacks like this week’s: « Russia is rapidly depleting its supply of long-range precision munitions, especially its air-launched cruise missiles.

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Ukraine’s General-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi struck an optimistic tone after his country’s rapid advances in the northeast and south.

« The strategic initiative is in our hands, so the main thing is not to stop, » Zaluzhnyi said after speaking by phone with the Commander-in-Chief of NATO’s Combined Forces Europe, General American Christopher Cavoli.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Friday evening on Facebook that Ukrainian forces had destroyed large amounts of Russian weapons and equipment in Antratsyt, south of Lugansk, where Ukraine hopes to retake major towns after its successes in the Kharkov region.

He said Russian forces had launched more artillery and airstrikes on towns such as Konstantynivka southwest of Bakhmut, their main target in the Donetsk region, and the town of Zaporizhzhia.

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Reuters was unable to verify reports from the battlefield.

Separately, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko put his country on what he called heightened terrorism alert on Friday, the latest move hinting at mounting pressure to join the war.

Lukashenko, Putin’s closest international ally, has allowed Russian forces to use Belarus as a staging ground, but has so far blocked his own troops from entering. This week he announced that Russian troops would join Belarusian forces near the Ukrainian border.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Philippa Fletcher, Hugh Lawson and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Peter Graff and Grant McCool)



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