German President Steinmeier, who has long advocated for closer economic ties with Moscow, says the Ukraine war has dashed those hopes and predicts “harder years” ahead for Europe.
Ukraine claims at least four civilians have been killed in recent Russian attacks as battles rage around Bakhmut and Kherson.
“We are not afraid of the dark,” says President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Ukraine’s grid operator declares temporary blackouts in several cities following Russian attacks on energy facilities.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says 23 of his soldiers were killed in Ukrainian artillery attacks this week, in a rare admission of defeat.
Russia announced on Friday that it had completed the call-up of reservists to fight in Ukraine, having drafted hundreds of thousands of people in a month, with more than a quarter already deployed.
The announcement appears to mark the end of a divisive mobilization drive – Russia’s first since World War II – that saw tens of thousands of men flee the country and sparked 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 stated that 82,000 troops had already been deployed to the combat zone, with the remainder undergoing 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 admitted to “issues” in the early days of the call-up. Shoigu stated that initial problems with supplying newly mobilised troops had been resolved.
Putin stated that mistakes were probably unavoidable given Russia’s long absence from mobilisation, but that lessons had been learned.
The “partial mobilisation,” ordered by Putin last month after his forces suffered major setbacks on the battlefield, was the first time most Russians felt a direct personal impact from the February “special military operation.”
More than 2,000 people were arrested in anti-mobilisation protests, many of whom were ethnic minorities who claimed they were being disproportionately targeted for deployment to the front.
Putin and other officials have admitted to making mistakes, such as calling up men who were too old or unfit, but have stated that the issues would be resolved.
Tens of thousands of Russian men are thought to have fled the country in order to avoid being forced to fight, many of them to neighboring former Soviet republics.
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