MOSCOW (AFP): More than 200,000 people have been conscripted into the Russian army since President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilisation drive on September 21, Moscow’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.
“As of today more than 200,000 people have entered the army,” Shoigu during a televised meeting.
Russia’s mobilisation is aimed at propping up Moscow’s forces in Ukraine. It was announced after a series of military setbacks.
The Kremlin has called the mobilisation “partial” and said it aims to recruit 300,000 men.
Shoigu said those mobilised are being trained at “80 training grounds and six training centres”.
The Kremlin’s mobilisation has led to some protests and an exodus of men of military age — with tens of thousands fleeing the draft, mainly to ex-Soviet neighbours.
Kazakhstan said Tuesday that more than 200,000 Russians had crossed into it in two weeks.
Putin stepped in last week to calm fears and urged authorities to “correct all mistakes” with the mobilisation.
Shoigu on Tuesday demanded that military and navy commanders help “quickly adapt the recruits to combat”.
He called on them to “conduct additional training with (the mobilised) under the guidance of officers with combat experience”.
He said mobilised people can only be sent to fighting zones after “training and combat coordination”.
The Russian defence minister also called on army recruitment centres not to turn away volunteers “if there are no serious reasons”.