Putin orders troop replenishment in light of Ukraine losses

Kyiv, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a major build-up of his country’s armed forces in an apparent effort to replenish troops that have suffered heavy losses in six months of bloody warfare and to prepare for a long, drawn-out battle in Ukraine. .

The move to increase the number of troops by 137,000 or 13% to 1.15 million by the end of the year came amid chilling developments on the ground in Ukraine:

– Fueling fears of a nuclear catastrophe, the Zaporizhzhya power plant was briefly shut down amid the fighting in southern Ukraine due to fire damage to a transmission line, authorities said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the plant’s emergency diesel generators had to be activated to provide the power needed to run the plant.

“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans one step away from a radiation disaster,” Zelenskyy said in his overnight video address.

The death toll from a Russian rocket attack on a train station and the surrounding area has risen to 25, Ukrainian authorities said. Russia said it targeted a military train and claimed to have killed more than 200 Ukrainian reservists in the attack, which took place on Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday.

Putin’s decree did not specify whether the expansion would be achieved by broadening the draft, recruiting more volunteers, or both. But some Russian military analysts predicted increased reliance on volunteers due to Kremlin concerns over a possible domestic backlash from an elaborate draft.

The move will increase Russia’s armed forces in total to 2.04 million, including the 1.15 million troops.

Western estimates of Russian deaths in the war in Ukraine ranged from more than 15,000 to more than 20,000 — more than the Soviet Union lost during its 10-year war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon said last week that as many as 80,000 Russian troops were killed or wounded, eroding Moscow’s ability to launch major offensives.

READ ALSO -  Seoul: N. Korea fires ballistic missile towards eastern sea

The Kremlin has said that only voluntary contract soldiers are taking part in the war in Ukraine. But it may be difficult to find more willing soldiers, and military analysts said planned troop strength could still be insufficient to support operations.

The retired Russian Colonel. Retired Viktor Murakhovsky said in comments from the Moscow-based RBC online news channel that the Kremlin will likely try to continue to rely on volunteers, and he predicted that will explain most of the increase.

Another Russian military expert, Alexei Leonkov, noted that training complex modern weapons normally takes three years. And conscripts serve only one year.

“A draft will not contribute to that, so the number of conscripts will not increase,” state news agency RIA quoted Novosti as Leonkov.

Fears of a Chernobyl disaster are mounting in Ukraine over the fighting over the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya factory. Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling the site.

In the incident on Thursday, the plant was cut off from the electricity grid, causing a power outage across the region, authorities said. The complex was later reconnected to the grid, a local Russian-installed official said.

It was not immediately clear from Ukrainian energy authorities whether the damaged line was carrying outgoing electricity or incoming power to operate the plant. But Zelensky’s mention of the emergency generators implied that the incoming power was affected. Electricity is needed to run the vital cooling systems of the reactors.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine would have had a radiation accident if the diesel generators had not been turned on.

READ ALSO -  Gibraltar confirms fuel leak from stranded cargo ship

He blames the fire that damaged the transmission line on Russian shelling. But the Russian-installed regional governor of Zaporizhzhya, Yevgeny Balitsky, blamed a Ukrainian attack.

While the incident apparently didn’t affect the reactors’ cooling systems — the loss of which could lead to a meltdown — it fueled fears of disaster.

“The situation is extremely dangerous,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. “I’m getting reports that there are bushfires near the power plant. We need to investigate this issue further.”

Elsewhere on the front, the deadly attack on the train station in Chaplyne, a town of about 3,500 in the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, took place as Ukraine braced for attacks linked to the National Day and the six-month war. fell on Wednesday.

The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, did not say whether all 25 dead were civilians. If so, it would amount to one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in weeks. Thirty-one people were reported injured.

Witnesses said several of the victims, including at least one child, were burned in train cars or passing cars.

“Everything went to dust,” said Olena Budnyk, a 65-year-old Chaplyne resident. “There was a dust storm. We couldn’t see anything. We didn’t know where to run.”

The dead included an 11-year-old boy found under the rubble of a house and a 6-year-old who died in a car fire near the train station, authorities said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces used an Iskander missile to attack a military train carrying Ukrainian troops and equipment to the frontline in eastern Ukraine. The ministry claimed that more than 200 reservists “were destroyed en route to the combat zone.”

READ ALSO -  North Korea warns of 'overwhelming nuclear power' to counter US

The attack served as a painful reminder of Russia’s continued ability to inflict large-scale suffering. Wednesday’s national holiday celebrated Ukraine’s 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.

Tetyana Kvitnytska, deputy head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Health Department, said the injured suffered head injuries, broken limbs, burns and shrapnel in the attack on the train station.

After attacks that killed civilians, the Russian government has repeatedly claimed that its forces are targeting only legitimate military targets. Hours before the bloodshed at the train station, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu urged the military to do its best to spare civilians, even at the cost of slowing the offensive in Ukraine.

In April, a Russian rocket attack on a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk killed more than 50 people as crowds, mostly women and children, tried to flee the fighting. The attack was dismissed as a war crime.

On Thursday, Dmitry Medvedev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, said in Moscow that Western hopes for a Ukrainian victory are futile and emphasized that the Kremlin will continue with what it calls the “special military operation,” leaving only two possible outcomes. .

“One of them is to achieve all the goals of the special military operation and the recognition of this achievement by Kiev,” Medvedev said on his messaging app channel. “The second is a military coup in Ukraine, followed by the recognition of the results of the special operation.”


Follow all AP coverage of the war in Ukraine:

Copyright 2022 ABC NEWS. All rights reserved.
Follow WT LOCAL on Social Media for the Latest News and Updates.
Share this news on your Facebook,Twitter and Whatsapp.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter