Zelenskyy Says Changes Needed In Ukraine’s Mobilization System As Putin Signs Decree On Troop Increase


(RFE/RL) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says changes must be made to improve mobilization as the Ukrainian military and the country’s civilian leadership work to improve conditions for troops on and off the battlefield.

Zelenskiy said mobilization was discussed during meetings he held on December 1 with military commanders to discuss scenarios to produce “concrete results” next year.

“Everything necessary for our state, our brigades. These specific results must be calculated precisely. This includes issues of mobilization,” Zelenskiy said in his evening video message. “Everyone in Ukraine understands that changes are needed in this area.”

He said the changes would go beyond numbers to include a time frame for soldiers currently serving in the military, demobilization, and terms and conditions for new recruits.

“These are comprehensive things that military leadership and the Ministry of Defense have to work out and present to the staff for approval,” he said, adding that several proposals were made and he is “awaiting comprehensive solutions.”

The issue of fine-tuning the process of mobilization and recruitment has been publicly discussed amid reports of corruption in recruitment such as bribes paid to recruiters to secure medical exemptions.

Zelenskiy’s comments came as Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering an increase of 170,000 in the Russian armed forces. According to the decree, the regular strength of the armed forces is now set at 1,320,000 servicemen.

“The increase in the full-time strength of the armed forces is due to the growing threats to our country associated with the special military operation and the ongoing expansion of NATO,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

There are no plans to significantly increase conscription or carry out a new wave of mobilization, it said, attributing the increase to the recruitment of contract personnel.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on December 1 that more than 452,000 people were recruited to the Russian military under contract from January 1 to December 1, 2023.

On the battlefield, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said in its summary on December 1 that Russian troops tried 10 times unsuccessfully to restore its lost position near Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhya region.

The summary said 67 combat clashes took place during the day, and the enemy conducted assault operations in five areas. This included in hard-fought areas near Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, and Maryinka.

Ukraine’s air defense said earlier that 18 out of 25 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia at several Ukrainian regions were shot down on December 1 as an air-raid alert was declared in Kyiv and its surrounding region.

The Ukrainian Air Force said it also destroyed one of the two X-59 guided missiles launched at its territory.

Russian drones were shot down over the Mykolayiv, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, and Dnepropetrovsk regions, the Ukrainian air defense said on Telegram.

There were no reports of casualties or material damage.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry said its navy destroyed an unmanned Ukrainian sea drone in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine’s occupied Crimea region.

“On December 1, at about 8 a.m. Moscow time, a Ukrainian Navy unmanned boat was detected in the western part of the Black Sea, heading in the direction of the Crimean peninsula. The target detected was destroyed by…the naval aviation of the Black Sea Fleet,” the ministry said on its telegram channel.

Ukraine has not commented, and the claim could not be independently verified.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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