29th October, 2022
Russia said on Friday it had finished calling up reservists to fight in Ukraine, having drafted hundreds of thousands in a month and sending more than a quarter of them already to the battlefield after a divisive mobilization campaign that was its first since World War Two.
The United States, meanwhile, announced it would send another $275 million in military assistance to Ukraine, including arms, munitions and equipment from Pentagon inventories, bringing U.S. military assistance to the country under the Biden administration to more than $18.5 billion.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was working to provide Ukraine with air defence capabilities it needs, with two initial sophisticated anti-aircraft NASAMS ready for delivery to the country next month.
He said the United States was also working with allies and partners to enable delivery of their own air defence systems to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he doubted Moscow was finished calling up soldiers.
In his nightly televised address, he said Russian forces “are so poorly prepared and equipped, so brutally used by their command, that it allows us to presume that very soon Russia may need a new wave of people to send to the war.”
The divisive mobilization drive has seen tens of thousands of men flee the country and gave rise to the first sustained public protests against the war.
“The task set by you of (mobilising) 300,000 people has been completed. No further measures are planned,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin at a televised meeting in the Kremlin.
He said 82,000 had already been sent to the combat zone and the rest were training.
Putin thanked reservists “for their dedication to duty, for their patriotism, for their firm determination to defend our country, to defend Russia, which means their home, their family, our citizens, our people.”
Both men acknowledged “problems” in the early days of the call-up. Shoigu said initial issues in supplying newly mobilised troops had since been resolved. Putin said mistakes had probably been inevitable as Russia had not carried out a mobilisation for such a long time, but that lessons had been learned.
The mobilisation Putin ordered last month after his forces suffered major battlefield setbacks was the first time most Russians faced a direct personal impact from the “special military operation” he launched in February.
More than 2,000 people were arrested in anti-mobilization protests, notably in parts of Russia populated by ethnic minorities who complained they were being disproportionately targeted to be sent to the front.