Putin calls his actions in Ukraine ‘correct and timely’

KYIV, UKRAINE (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he expects his mobilization of army reservists for combat in Ukraine to be completed in about two weeks, allowing him to end an unpopular and chaotic call-up intended to counter Ukrainian gains on the battlefield and to consolidate its illegal annexation of the occupied territory.

Putin – in the face of domestic discontent and military setbacks in an increasingly armed neighboring country advanced western weapons – also told reporters he had no regrets about starting the conflict and “didn’t intend to destroy Ukraine” when he ordered Russian troops to invade nearly eight years ago month.

“What is happening today is unpleasant, to say the least,” he said after attend a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the capital of Kazakhstan. “But we would have had all that a little later, but in worse conditions for us, that’s all. My actions are therefore correct and timely.

Russia’s difficulties in achieving its war aims have become apparent in one of four Ukrainian regions that Putin illegally claimed as Russian territory last month. Anticipating an advance of the Ukrainian forces, Moscow-based authorities in the Kherson region urged residents to flee on Friday.

Even some of Putin’s own supporters have criticized the Kremlin’s handling of the war and mobilization, increasing pressure on him to do more to turn the tide in favor of Russia.

In his comments on mobilizing the army, Putin said the action he ordered last month had registered 222,000 of the 300,000 reservists the Russian Defense Ministry had set as an initial target. A total of 33,000 of them have joined military units and 16,000 are deployed for combat, he said.

Putin ordered the call to step up the fight along a 1,100 km (684 mile) front line where Ukrainian counteroffensives have damaged Moscow’s military prestige. Mobilization was troubled from the start, with confusion over who was eligible for the draft in a country where nearly all men under 65 are registered as reservists.

Opposition to the order was so strong that tens of thousands of men left Russia, and others protested in the streets. Critics were skeptical that the project would end in two weeks. They predicted only a pause to allow draft offices to process regular draftees in Russia’s annual fall draft for men aged 18-27, which was postponed from Oct. 1 to Oct. 1. november.

“Don’t believe Putin about ‘two weeks’. Mobilization can only be annulled by its decree. No decree – no cancellation,” Vyacheslav Gimadi, a lawyer for the Anti-Corruption Foundation for imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, wrote on Facebook.

Asked about the possibility of an expanded mobilization, the Russian president said that the Ministry of Defense had not asked him to authorize one.

“Nothing else is planned,” Putin said, adding, “For the foreseeable future, I don’t see any need.”

Putin and other officials said in September the mobilization would affect some 300,000 people, but his enabling decree did not cite a specific figure. Russian media suggested it could be as high as 1.2 million.

Putin also said only those with combat or service experience would be drafted. He later admitted that military officials had made mistakes, such as enlisting reservists without relevant experience. Men who received minimal training decades ago were recruited en masse.

Reports have also surfaced that some recruits have been sent to the front lines in Ukraine with little preparation and inadequate equipment. Several mobilized reservists are believed to have died in action in Ukraine this week, just days after their recruitment.

Putin responded to the criticism on Friday, saying all activated recruits should receive proper training and that he would instruct the Russian Security Council “to conduct an inspection on how mobilized citizens are being trained.”

Before launching the invasion on February 24, Putin questioned Ukraine’s right to exist as a sovereign nation, describing the country as part of historic Russia. Asked about it on Friday, he repeated his assertion that Russia was ready for peace talks and again accused the Ukrainian government of abandoning negotiations after Russian troops withdrew from Kyiv at the start of the war.

Ukraine has rejected any possibility of negotiating with Putin after it illegally annexed the Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk last month on the basis of “referendums” that Kyiv and the West have denounced as a sham.

The momentum of the battlefield has shifted to Ukraine as its army retakes towns, villages and villages that Russia took at the start of the war. After concerned leaders in occupied Kherson backed by the Kremlin asked civilians to evacuate to ensure their safety and give Russian troops more maneuverability, Moscow offered free accommodation.

Russia has characterized the movement of Ukrainians to Russia or Russian-controlled territory as voluntary, but in many cases they are not allowed to travel to Ukrainian-controlled territory, and reports have surfaced that some were forcibly deported to “filtration camps” with severe penalties. conditions.

A Associated Press investigation found that the Russian authorities had expelled thousands of Ukrainian children – some orphansothers live with foster families or in institutions — to be brought up like Russians.

Ukrainian forces reported recapturing 75 populated places in northern Kherson over the past month, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories. A similar campaign in eastern Ukraine resulted in the return of most of the Kharkiv region to Ukrainian control, as well as parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the ministry said.

By withdrawing, the Russian forces aggravate their losses by abandoning arms and ammunition. In the United States, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence presented a slide show on Friday indicating that at least 6,000 pieces of Russian equipment have been lost since the start of the war. The presentation describes the enormous pressure on the Russian defense industry to replace its losses and indicates that due to export controls and international sanctions, Russia is spending munitions at an unsustainable rate.

Konstantin, a Kherson resident who only spoke to the AP if his surname was withheld for security reasons, said columns of military trucks moved into the region’s capital and were eventually parts. Most government offices have reduced working hours and schools have closed, he said.

“The city is now on hold. It is mainly the Russian military from the headquarters and the family of the collaborators who are leaving,” Konstantin said. “Everyone is discussing the imminent arrival of the Ukrainian army and preparing for it.”

Russian forces on Friday carried out missile strikes over Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and in the Zaphorizhzhia region, home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. The UN nuclear watchdog has warned that fighting in or near the now closed Russian-controlled Zaphorizhzhia nuclear power plant could trigger a catastrophic release of radiation.

Putin swore get revenge if Ukraine or its allies strike Russian territory, including annexed Ukrainian regions. The Russian region of Belgorod, on the border with Ukraine, was attacked for the second day on Friday. According to Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, the shelling damaged an electrical substation, five houses in the village of Voznesenovka, and a power line, leaving several nearby villages temporarily without power. No casualties or injuries were reported.

Ukrainian shelling on Thursday blew up an ammunition depot in the Belgorod region, according to the Russian investigative commission. According to unconfirmed media reports, three Russian National Guard officers were killed and more than 10 were injured.

Vowing to liberate all Russian-occupied areas, General Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said in a video message on Friday: “We have buried the myth of the invincibility of the Russian military.”


Yuras Karmanau contributed reporting from Tallinn, Estonia.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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