Ukraine Latest: Russia Seeks to Make More Men Eligible for Draft
Russia named a new commander of its forces in Ukraine, the latest in a number of military shuffles since the invasion bogged down from the start.
(Bloomberg) -- Russia may start drafting men as old as 30 this spring under a plan outlined by a senior legislator as the military pushes to expand its ranks amid losses in Ukraine.
Russia’s commander of land forces visited Belarus a day after his superior Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff, took over the combined forces in the invasion. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in Washington that Russia has had a lot of changes in its command as it tries “to overcome their own difficulties” in a war it shouldn’t have started.
Ukrainian forces were fighting to keep control of Soledar and Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region. “Fierce battles” raged near Soledar on Thursday even as a top Ukrainian official said Russia’s bid to take the town is failing.
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On the Ground
Fierce fighting continues in Soledar as Russian attempts to capture the Donetsk region town are failing, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on a video briefing. Russia is likely to increase efforts to capture the part of Zaporizhzhia region on the left bank of Dnipro River, said Ukrainian General Staff representative Oleksiy Hromov. Russian forces hit Zaporizhzhia with missiles overnight, damaging private buildings and infrastructure facilities. To the east, Ukrainian troops repelled attacks near 12 settlements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, including Bakhmut. Russia continues to shell Ukrainian border areas with artillery, including in the north-eastern Chernihiv and Sumy regions.
(All times CET)
Russia May Raise Draft Age This Spring in Push for More Troops (1:53 p.m.)
President Vladimir Putin last month not only endorsed boosting the size of Russia’s army to 1.5 million from the current 1.15 million, but also approved a plan to raise the draft age to 21 to 30 from the current 18 to 27.
In the transition period to the new system starting as early as this year, the upper limit may be raised before the lower one, meaning men from 18 to 30 who don’t have exemptions will be subject to the draft, Andrei Kartapolov, chairman of the Defense Committee in the State Duma, told a state newspaper.
Russia’s Chief of Land Forces Inspects Troops in Belarus (1 p.m.)
Oleg Salyukov, commander in chief of Russia’s land forces, arrived in Belarus on Thursday to inspect Russian troops training there, the Belarusian defense ministry said on Telegram.
Salyukov plans to assess the forces’ “readiness to fulfill their intended tasks,” according to the ministry’s post.
Russia and Belarus are also scheduled to hold joint air force drills starting Jan. 16 and running through Feb. 1. Ukrainian officials have warned that the Kremlin plans another attack this winter staged out of Belarus, including a potential assault on Kyiv.
Lithuania Seeks to Boost Production of Anti-Drone Weapons (11:45 a.m.)
Lithuania needs to increase production of anti-drone weapons to assist Ukraine and to meet its own military needs, said president Gitanas Nauseda.
Nauseda also said NATO should find formulas on how to offer Ukraine security guarantees before membership in the military alliance. can be considered.
He said he hopes to find a way to move forward on that at the NATO leaders summit in Vilnius in July.
US’s Power Speaks With Ukraine Infrastructure Minister (11 a.m.)
Samantha Power, head of the USAID, spoke with Oleksandr Kubrakov on “the need to create small-scale power generation, Ukraine’s infrastructure chief said on Twitter.
Russian Official Says IAEA’s Grossi to Visit Ukraine Next Week (11 a.m.)
Vienna-based Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov commented on a planned visit to Ukraine next week by Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency — the latest bid to establish a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Grossi announced his trip earlier in the week while in Rome, and said he hoped to travel on to Moscow. He told the Italian public television station RAI that talks on getting a safety deal are getting harder.
While Grossi held out the prospect of meeting with President Putin, the Kremlin said Wednesday there are no plans for talks “so far.” Grossi and Putin met in October.
Generators Help Shops Keep Lights On for Ukrainians Hit by War (10:43 a.m.)
The roar of diesel generators is a symbol of how Ukrainians are adapting to war.
After months of blackouts caused by Russian attacks against the country’s energy infrastructure, everyone from mom-and-pop companies to international retailers are keeping the lights on with machines chugging away on sidewalks and cables snaking indoors.
Ukraine imported more than half a million generators in 2022, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.
Read: Generators Help Shops Keep Lights On for Ukrainians Hit by War
Ukrenergo Implements Emergency Power Outages (10:34 a.m.)
The grid operator Ukrenergo implemented emergency power cuts on Thursday as consumption exceeded limits in several regions.
Ukraine’s ongoing energy deficit is a consequence of Russian massive missile and drone attacks that started in October, as well as occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by Russia since the earliest days of the Kremlin invasion.
Power producers and distribution system operators are constantly working to restore damaged facilities.
EBRD Invested a Record €13B Euros, Including €1.7B in Ukraine (10:11 a.m.)
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development invested €1.7 billion in Ukraine out of record investments of €13.1 billion in 2022, and organized another €200 million from partner banks to support Ukraine’s infrastructure, energy and food security, the London-based development bank said in a statement.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the EBRD had earlier committed to invest €3 billion in Ukraine by the end of 2023.
Russian Troops Haven’t Fully Seized Soledar, Military Think Tank Says (9:40 a.m.)
Kremlin troops haven’t fully captured Soledar despite numerous claims from the country’s sources, according to the daily note from the Institute for the Study of War.
Even capture of the town would unlikely enable Russian forces to seize the more strategic city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, it said.
Russian offensive operations to capture Bakhmut have likely culminated due to degraded operational capabilities, it said. The increasing shortage of munitions may also be one of the main issues that will probably hinder the ability of the Russian army to sustain offensive operations in eastern Ukraine this year, the institute said.
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