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Russia says 335,000 sign up to fight, no plans for new mobilisation

russian conscripts depart for garrisons from a recruitment centre in sevastopol
Russian servicemen and conscripts called up for military service line up before their departure for garrisons as they gather at a recruitment centre in Sevastopol, Crimea

Russia has no plans for an additional mobilisation of men to fight in Ukraine as more than 335,000 have signed up so far this year to fight in the armed forces or voluntary units, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

Russia has been bolstering its armed forces and ramping up weapons production in the expectation of a long war in Ukraine, where front lines have barely shifted for a year.

“There are no plans for an additional mobilisation,” Shoigu was shown telling top generals on state television. “The armed forces have the necessary number of military personnel to conduct the special military operation.”

Shoigu, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, hailed the patriotism of those who had signed up.

“Since the start of the year, more than 335,000 people have entered military service under contract and in volunteer formations,” Shoigu said. “In September alone, more than 50,000 citizens signed contracts.”

Those figures indicate that Russia has made significant progress both in signing recruits and in absorbing many fighters from the Wagner mercenary force into “voluntary formations”.

Putin ordered a “partial mobilisation” of 300,000 reservists in September last year, prompting hundreds of thousands of young men to flee Russia to avoid being sent to fight.

Putin has repeatedly said there is no need to repeat the mobilisation, which some Russian officials say was a mistake as it prompted so many to leave.

LONG WAR?

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 unleashed a war that has devastated swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine, killed or injured hundreds of thousands of men and triggered the biggest rupture in Russia’s ties with the West for six decades.

Putin says he is fighting a Western alliance waging a proxy war to diminish Russia politically and militarily, while Western leaders say their economic sanctions and their military backing for Ukraine are a direct response to Moscow’s aggression.

But the future course of the war is uncertain, despite predictions by U.S. officials earlier this year that Russia’s defeat on the battlefields of Ukraine would pierce Putin’s hubris.

While Ukraine was able to win back territory last year from Russia in attacks which humiliated the Russian armed forces, this year has been different.

In the month to Sept. 26, Russia took 31 square miles while Ukraine took 16 square miles, according to the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The declared war aims of both sides appear ambitious: Ukraine says it will eject every last Russian soldier from Ukraine while Russia says it will demilitarise Ukraine.

Mark Milley, who retired last month as U.S. chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told CNN last month that the fight would be long, hard and bloody as Russia had well over 200,000 men in Ukraine.

“What I said months ago was it’s going to be long, hard, bloody because the nature of this particular fight and the type of defense that the Russians put in,” Milley said.

Milley said that the Ukrainian aim to kick all the Russians out of Ukraine would “take a long time. That’s going to be very significant effort over a considerable amount of time.”

“I can tell you that it will take a considerable length of time to militarily eject all 200,000-plus Russian troops out of Russian-occupied Ukraine. That’s a very high bar. It’s going to take a long time to do it,” Milley said.

While the Kremlin expects the United States to continue to support Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars in security assistance, Putin is betting on Western fatigue over the war.

“We have repeatedly said before that according to our forecasts fatigue from this conflict, fatigue from the completely absurd sponsorship of the Kyiv regime, will grow in various countries, including the United States,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

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