Russian leaders have been scrambling to find more troops for their stalled invasion of Ukraine. They have called up hundreds of thousands of reservists under orders from President Vladimir Putin. Now, they say they have filled the ranks and are getting the troops ready for battle.
Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, met with Putin near Moscow on Friday. He said the mobilization of 300,000 troops had been completed.
Putin offered his gratitude to all those who joined the armed forces. He thanked them for their "fidelity to duty, their patriotism, and their determination to defend Russia."
He added that the most important thing is to make sure the troops have everything they need to fight, for them to feel "confident."
Shoigu informed Putin that more than 80,000 of the conscripts have already been dispatched and provided with the necessary weapons, rations, and other supplies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy downplayed the call-up. He said in a briefing that his troops tell him the situation is "completely different on the front lines." He added that, even though Russia is trying to put more pressure on Ukrainian positions by using the newly mobilized troops, they are poorly prepared and equipped.
Zelenskyy also criticized the Russians for decimating the southern Kherson region, calling it "a zone without civilization." The Russian-backed authorities there have ordered civilians to evacuate in the face of advancing Ukrainian troops. Zelenskyy vowed to his people that "the Ukrainian flag will return."