Russia is preparing to mobilize 300,000 troops by June 2024

A group of Russian conscripts appeared drunk in front of their commander.

Russia is preparing to mobilize an additional 300,000 troops to the front lines in Ukraine by the beginning of June, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky’s comment, which was made during a press conference in Kyiv on Wednesday, comes a few days after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a routine spring conscription campaign into action, which called up 150,000 citizens for military service. Ukraine’s military intelligence also recently reported that Russia was likely aiming to ramp up its mobilization efforts following the country’s presidential election, in which Putin won over 87 percent of the vote.

The Kremlin has faced backlash from Russian citizens in the past over military recruitment efforts to bolster its defenses against Ukraine. A partial mobilization effort in fall 2022 sparked widespread protests, with hundreds of thousands of potential draftees fleeing the country to avoid being drafted. Western intelligence previously reported that Putin was likely avoiding another mass conscription effort to dodge political fallout before March’s election.

Moscow has recently held the momentum in the over two-year war against Kyiv, although the invasion has cost Russia prolific casualty totals. U.S. intelligence estimated in December that the Kremlin has lost over 440,000 soldiers since the start of the conflict, with several pockets of fighting along the front lines described as a “meat grinder.”

Ukraine has also suffered staggering losses as the war rages on. Zelensky said in February that 31,000 of Kyiv’s solders had been killed since the war broke out. U.S. officials told The New York Times in August, however, that around 70,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed, with upwards of 120,000 wounded.

Kyiv also took steps this week to boost its military recruitment efforts by lowering its draft-eligible age for men, from 27 to 25. The changes were part of three bills that Zelensky signed into law on Wednesday, and Oksana Zabolotna, analyst with Ukrainian government watchdog Center for United Actions, told the Associated Press that decreasing the draft age could add around 50,000 troops to Kyiv’s military.

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Zelensky said that it was unclear how many troops Ukraine plans to mobilize this year, but backtracked on his previous goals, saying, “we don’t need half a million.”

The Ukrainian leader added during his nightly video address on Wednesday that Kyiv “clearly” understands why Russia is looking to draft additional soldiers, and urged that the months of May and June “should be a time of activity for the sake of Ukraine, for the sake of achieving our goals in this war.”

“We clearly understand what Russia is preparing for, what they want, and what they will be drafting soldiers into their army for,” Zelensky said. “And we, all of us, our partners, must have a strong response to Russian operations—any Russian operations. We must win this war.”

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