Putin: Call-up of Russian reservists to finish in two weeks

Putin: Call-Up Of Russian Reservists To Finish In Two Weeks
Vladimir Putin, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Sabra Ayres, AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he expects a mobilisation of army reservists he ordered last month to bolster his country’s troops in Ukraine to be completed in two weeks.

Mr Putin told reporters after attending a summit in Kazakhstan that 222,000 of the 300,000 reservists the Russian defence ministry said would be called up have been mobilised.


A total of 33,000 of them are already in military units and 16,000 are involved in combat, the Russian leader said.

Russia Ukraine War
Ukrainian territorial defence de-miners remove a camouflage net to be reused as they clear mines in an abandoned Russian camp near Grakove village in Ukraine (AP)

Mr Putin also told reporters he does not regret starting the conflict and “did not set out to destroy Ukraine” when he ordered Russian troops to invade nearly eight months ago.


“What is happening today is unpleasant, to put it mildly,” he said after attending a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Kazakhstan’s capital. “But we would have had all this a little later, only under worse conditions for us, that’s all. So my actions are correct and timely.”

The call-up, announced by Mr Putin in September, has proved hugely unpopular in Russia, where almost all men under the age of 65 are registered as reservists.

At the same time, the Kremlin has faced domestic criticism of its handling of the war, increasing pressure on Mr Putin to do more to turn the tide in Russia’s favour.

The Russian leader initially described the mobilisation as “partial” and said only those with combat or service experience would be drafted.


However, a decree he signed outlined almost no specific criteria.

Russian media reports have described attempts to round up men without the relevant experience, including those ineligible for service for medical reasons. In the wake of the president’s mobilisation order, tens of thousands of men left Russia.

Defenders Day mourners
Parents of recently killed Ukrainian serviceman Ruslan Zhumaboev stand next to his grave in a cemetery during Ukraine Defenders Day in Kharkiv (AP)


Mr Putin also said on Friday there was no need for more widespread attacks against Ukraine, such as those Russia launched on Monday in retaliation for an October 8 truck bomb explosion on a prized bridge linking Russia to Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

The Kerch Bridge explosion followed Ukraine’s recapturing of occupied areas in the country’s east and south in continuing counteroffensives that have restored Ukrainian confidence and embarrassed Russia’s military.

Russia has promised free accommodation to residents of Ukraine’s partially occupied Kherson region who want to evacuate to Russia, a sign that Ukrainian military gains along the war’s southern front are worrying the Kremlin.

The Moscow-installed leader of Kherson, one of four regions illegally annexed by Putin last month, asked the Kremlin to organise an evacuation from four cities, citing incessant shelling by Ukrainian forces.


Vladimir Saldo, the head of the Moscow-appointed regional administration, said a decision was made to evacuate Kherson residents to the Russian regions of Rostov, Krasnodar and Stavropol, as well as to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Wrecked school
Debris covers an area of a heavily damaged school after a Russian attack, two days ago at the village of Velyka Kostromka, in Dnipropetrovsk region (AP)

“We, residents of the Kherson region, of course know that Russia doesn’t abandon their own, and Russia always offers a hand,” Mr Saldo said Thursday.

Russia has characterised the movement of Ukrainians to Russia or Russian-controlled territory as voluntary, but in many cases those are the only evacuation routes residents of occupied areas can or are allowed to take.

Reports have surfaced that some Ukrainians were forcibly deported to “filtration camps” with harsh conditions.

In addition, an Associated Press investigation found that Russian officials deported thousands of Ukrainian children – some orphaned, others living with foster families or in institutions – to be raised as Russian.

The evacuation announcement came as Ukrainian forces pushed deeper into the Kherson region, albeit at a slower pace than a few weeks ago.

Russia Ukraine War
A woman stands next to the grave of a relative recently killed on military duty, in a cemetery, during Ukraine Defenders Day in Kharkiv (AP)

Ukrainian forces reported retaking 75 populated places in the region in the last month, Ukraine’s ministry for reintegration of temporarily occupied territories said late on Thursday night.

A similar campaign in eastern Ukraine resulted in most of the Kharkiv region returning to Ukrainian control, as well as parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the ministry said.

Mr Putin illegally annexed Kherson, as well as the neighbouring Zaporizhzhia region and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine last month following “referendums” in the four regions that Kyiv and the West denounced as a sham.

General Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, vowed on Friday that his forces would succeed in “getting ours back”.

“No-one and nothing will stop us,” Gen Zaluzhny said in a video message. “We have buried the myth of the invincibility of the Russian army.”

In the last 24 hours, at least nine civilians were killed and 15 were wounded, the Ukrainian president’s office reported on Friday morning. The victims included an 11-year-old boy and six other people who died after a missile strike in the city of Mykolaiv, where a residential building was destroyed, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said.

Also on Friday, Russian forces carried out at least four missile strikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second- largest city.

Mayor Ihor Terekhov reported several explosions in the north-eastern city without offering any details on the extent of the damage or saying if there were any casualties.

The Ukrainian army recaptured most previously occupied areas of the Kharkiv region, which includes the city of the same name, during a fierce counter-offensive last month that forced Russian troops to withdraw and inflicted a stunning blow on Moscow’s military prestige.

Friday is Defender’s Day in Ukraine, but celebrations were muted because of the war. In Kyiv, a concert at the central opera house was cancelled because of planned, rotating power outages across the city as repairs to the city’s energy infrastructure continue following Russia’s wide-ranging missile attacks.

Missile, drone and rocket attacks on Ukraine have kept the country on edge with air raid sirens occurring more frequently and bringing a heightened sense of urgency after Monday’s strike killed 19 people and wounded more than 100, including many in the capital.

Mr Putin has vowed to retaliate harshly if Ukraine or its allies strike Russian territory, including the annexed regions of Ukraine.

Russian officials reported that Ukrainian shelling blew up an ammunition depot in Russia’s Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine.

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