Russia Looking To Recruit 400,000 Volunteers To Fight In Ukraine


Russia is looking to recruit “real men” to fight in its invasion of Ukraine, the British Defense Ministry said Sunday in its intelligence update posted on Twitter.

The ads for the new campaign on billboards, TV, and social media sites also feature the financial rewards of signing up for the Russian military, but it is “highly unlikely” that Russia will meet its target of 400,000 volunteer recruits, the British ministry said.

Ukraine announced new sanctions against individuals or legal entities who support or invest in “Russian aggression.” In his nightly video address Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Kyiv has sanctioned 322 companies that manufacture weapons and military components for Russia’s military against Ukraine.

Additional sanctions have been imposed against “individuals and legal entities that help circumvent sanctions against Russia,” he said.

“The task is to remove any opportunity for Russia to circumvent sanctions,” he added, “the tougher the sanctions against the Russian war economy, the faster the end of the aggression will be.”

So far, Western sanctions against Russia have not dampened the wealth of Russian billionaires.

According to Forbes World’s Billionaires list, the wealth of Russia’s billionaires rose to about half a trillion dollars in 2023. The overall wealth of Russian billionaires jumped from $353 billion in 2022 to $505 billion in 2023, and 22 people were added to the number of super-rich Russians, raising the total to 110. That number does not include the ultra-wealthy Russians who have renounced their Russian citizenship. The data “fly in the face of significant Western sanctions and a troubled Russian economy that shrank 2.1% last year,” Forbes says.

Missiles strike 

Reuters reports that at least five Russian missiles struck the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and adjacent areas late Saturday night, damaging some civilian buildings, according to local officials.

Regional governor Oleh Sinegubov wrote on Telegram that one missile destroyed a house in the village of Kotliary, just south of Kharkiv, and another caused a large fire in the city.

Just about an hour’s drive away, across the border in Russia, at least 3,000 evacuees returned to their homes Saturday in the city of Belgorod. They had evacuated while military experts disposed of a bomb.

A Russian Sukhoi-34 supersonic warplane accidentally fired on Belgorod on Thursday, and the blast injured three people, Russian officials said.

Belgorod region governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram that “operational headquarters decided to evacuate 17 apartment buildings within a radius of 200 meters” before explosive experts began their work.

Russia expels German diplomats 

Russia announced Saturday it was expelling more than 20 German diplomats. According to Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency, the Kremlin’s decision was made in response to Germany’s expulsion of more than 20 Russian diplomats.

A German Foreign Ministry official said the two countries had been looking to reduce their staffing, with Germany interested in reducing Russia’s intelligence presence, according to Reuters.

“Today’s departure of Russian embassy staff is related to this,” the official told Reuters. The German ministry declined to say how many Russian diplomats had left.

“The German authorities have decided on another mass expulsion of employees of Russian diplomatic missions in Germany,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We strongly condemn these actions by Berlin, which continues to demonstratively destroy the entire array of Russian-German relations,” it said.

Relations between the two countries have been frosty since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Before the invasion, Germany was Russia’s biggest oil and gas importer.

Russia’s war justification faltering 

In its daily intelligence update on Ukraine, the British Defense Ministry said Saturday that Russia is “struggling to maintain consistency in a core narrative it uses to justify the war in Ukraine.” The narrative is that the invasion of Ukraine is similar to the Soviet experience in World War II.

Earlier this month, Russia cited safety issues as the reason for canceling the annual observance of the Immortal Regiment “Great Patriotic War” remembrance marches. “In reality,” the ministry said,” the authorities were highly likely concerned that participants would highlight the scope of recent Russian losses.”

The Russian military downplays the number of Russian soldiers killed in battle. According to RFE/RL of the 400 soldiers killed by a Ukrainian strike in the eastern city of Makiyivka four months ago, only 89 were documented. The government’s lack of transparency has led many Russians to desperately seek answers about their missing relatives at the war front, the article says.

“Maybe in 10 years we will learn the truth,” said a woman whose brother was killed in Makiyivka.

Another part of the Russian saga justifying its invasion against Ukraine, is its alleged de-Nazification operation there. But even Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Wagner Group and a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has publicly questioned the existence of Nazis in Ukraine, contradicting Russia’s justification for the invasion, the British ministry said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that Russian assault troops had captured three more districts in the western part of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, Reuters reports. Russia’s regular forces and fighters from the Wagner private military company are launching nonstop assaults on the ravaged city Ukrainian commanders on the front lines told CNN.

Kyiv said Friday that while Russian forces had made some advances in the eastern city, the situation was still in play.

“The situation is tense, but under control,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on Telegram.

Malyar made the comments after Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a briefing Friday that assault troops were fighting in western parts of Bakhmut, the last part of the embattled Ukrainian city still held by Kyiv’s forces.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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