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Discussing Mobilization, Putin Says Russian Forces Are ‘Improving Their Positions’

Discussing Russia’s much-discussed and -maligned mobilization of military forces for the war in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin told his annual televised “Results of the Year with Vladimir Putin” that 617,000 soldiers are now deployed in and in support of the special military operation, and said there would be no further mobilization, as recruiting is now rapid. He reminded that the line of engagement is now 2,000 km long (1,250 miles, a greater distance than from Maine to Florida), and said that Russian troops, “to put it humbly, are improving their positions” along the entire line.

In an earlier question, regarding whether there would be a second wave of mobilization, the President replied: “I understand that this is a burning issue. Look, we had a partial mobilization, and at that time we called up 300,000 people. … If I am not mistaken, there are 244,000 soldiers directly … in the special military operation zone. … If I am correct, 41,000 were discharged due to mandatory retirement, health reasons, and so on.

“After this, we launched a fairly broad campaign to attract volunteer fighters to sign contracts with the Armed Forces. Our goal was to recruit a little over 400,000 people by the end of the year. As of yesterday evening, I received a report that 486,000 have been recruited, and the number of men who are ready to defend the interests of our Motherland with arms in hand is not decreasing. There are 1,500 volunteer fighters being recruited every day throughout the country. So, together with the volunteers there will be about half a million people by the end of this year…. So, what do we need mobilization for? There is absolutely no need for it today.”

In response to a serial question from TASS, Putin detailed Russia’s effort, over the decades since the independence from the Soviet Union, to collaborate with Ukraine, but that the U.S. and Europe staged the 2014 coup d’état against the elected President Viktor Yanukovych. “Do you see the core of the problem? The problem is, as I have always said and as I am saying today, that despite the current tragic developments, Russians and Ukrainians are essentially one people. What is happening now is an immense tragedy; it is like a civil war between brothers who stand on different sides [of the conflict]. But overall, they are not, to a large extent, responsible for this. …

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