Talk of new mobilization ‘complete stupidity’ – Shoigu

Moscow has enough troops to fulfill its goals, the Defense Minister has suggested

Russia does not need to announce another wave of mobilization to replenish army ranks, even if it decides to establish a buffer zone in Kiev-controlled territories to prevent Ukraine from launching strikes on civilians, according to Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested earlier this month that Moscow could at some point be forced to “create a certain cordon sanitaire in Ukraine, to ensure the safety of Russian regions that are often subject to deadly and indiscriminate artillery and drone attacks.

When asked on Tuesday if a new mobilization would be needed to fulfill such goal, Shoigu dismissed the rumor as total nonsense and “complete stupidity.”

Moscow conducted a partial military call-up in September 2022, with Shoigu explaining at the time that additional troops were needed to “stabilize the situation, protect new territories” and hold the front line, which stretched more than 1,000 km. Since then, Russian officials have repeatedly dismissed allegations of a looming new mobilization, fueled by increasingly aggressive draft practices in Ukraine.

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Talk of new mobilization ‘complete stupidity’ – Shoigu
Russia estimates 2023 Ukrainian military losses

Russian authorities have instead launched a large-scale recruitment campaign, encouraging people to enlist, with some 490,000 people signing agreements with the military or joining volunteer units in 2023 alone. President Putin said in December that some 1,500 people voluntarily join the military on a daily basis across the country.

“All recruitment plans for the army and the navy this year have been fulfilled,” Shoigu said in December, adding that the overall size of the Russian armed forces stood at 1.15 million service personnel. The size of the country’s military will increase to 1.5 million in 2024, which would include up to 745,000 contract troops.

In the meantime, authorities in Kiev have been looking for various ways to boost the draft numbers, amid reports of general unwillingness among Ukrainians to join the fight against Russia and a shortage of volunteers.

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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian General Aleksandr Pavlyuk (C) stands as President Vladimir Zelensky (R) takes a report from a senior marines commander.
Ukrainian general condemns sympathy for dead draft dodgers

In January, Ukrainian media reported that fighting-age males were to be denied healthcare unless they reported for the draft. In February, a Ukrainian lawmaker suggested barring draft dodgers and their children from the nation’s universities. There were also numerous videos circulating on Ukrainian social media which show the military using violence against men as they are being drafted. 

The Russian military estimated Ukrainian combat losses at over 444,000 as of the end of February. Earlier the same month, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in action, deviating from Kiev’s usual policy not to report casualties. Western media pointed out that the figure was far lower than US estimates revealed in a series of leaks from the Pentagon last year.

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