Russian defence minister says Ukraine is ‘significantly weakened’

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El presidente ucraniano Volodymyr Zelenskyy, al centro, saluda a un soldado durante su visita a la conflictiva región de Donbas, en el este de Ucrania, el jueves 8 de abril de 2021. (Oficina Presidencial de Prensa de Ucrania vía AP)

Moscow, Russia.

Russian forces have significantly weakened the combat potential of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, according to Moscow’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The adversary had been dealt sensitive blows, Shoigu told a meeting of the military leadership in Moscow.

The minister also said that recent Ukrainian attacks in the Bakhmut and Soledar areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk region had been successfully repelled.

He said that Ukrainian attempted to break through Russian defence lines at Rabotyne and Verkhovoe in the Zaporizhzhya region had also failed.

Shoigu’s comments contradicted Ukrainian statements, according to which there had been successful advances there.

The minister also stressed that Russia had enough volunteers and contract soldiers to cover the tasks needed in the war on Ukraine.

Their number now stands at 335,000 people, he said.

In September alone, he said, more than 50,000 citizens signed a contract for military service.

A new mobilisation is therefore not necessary, Shoigu said.

During last year’s partial mobilisation, overshadowed by protests, hundreds of thousands of Russians left the country for fear of being drafted and forced to fight in the Kremlin war.

Now, though, many Russians are volunteering for the comparatively well-paid war effort due to the lack of other work.

Currently, 130,000 conscripts are also being called up in Russia, but they are not supposed to be deployed in war zones during their training.

They can volunteer for military services after completing their basic military service, however.

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