Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling up 130,000 conscripts for military service this fall, increasing the age limit of conscripts from 27 to 30, according to a document posted on the Russian government website on Friday.
Russia's lower house of parliament voted last July to raise the age for conscripts, and that legislation will take effect on January 1, 2024. Putin said earlier this month that he is bracing for a long war with Ukraine as Russia's armed forces press on with their 'special military operation' in Ukraine, now in its 20th month.
Starting at the age of 18, all men in Russia are required to serve one year in the military.
The conscription will begin on October 1 in all parts of the Russian Federation, according to the defense ministry, including in the illegally annexed regions of Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said Friday.
Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were formally annexed by Russia in September 2022 after so-called referendums were held there, which were universally dismissed as shams by Ukraine and Western nations. Russia had annexed Crimea in 2014.
Last year, Russia announced a plan to increase its professional and conscripted combat force by more than 30% to 1.5 million, a plan made more difficult by its heavy casualties in Ukraine.
While the West continues to supply Ukraine with military hardware, it is planning to produce its own, including air defenses, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, told reporters on Friday.
"I think very soon specialists will arrive here who will make a plan for our own production of everything that we need. First and foremost, this relates to air defenses," Yermak said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed confidence Friday that Poland will find ways to address disagreements with Ukraine without affecting its military support for Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy talk during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sept. 28, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
'I'm expecting and I'm confident that Ukraine and Poland will find a way to address those issues without that impacting in a negative way the military support to Ukraine," Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview in Copenhagen.
Relations have been somewhat impaired between Poland, a NATO member, and its neighbor Ukraine, after Warsaw's decision to extend a ban on Ukrainian grain imports.
Seven EU countries have ordered ammunition under a landmark European Union procurement framework to get urgently needed artillery shells to Ukraine and replenish depleted Western stocks, according to the European Defense Agency.
The orders are for 155-millimeter artillery rounds, one of the most important munitions in Ukraine's defensive war against Russian aggression.
The scheme was set up as part of a plan worth at least $2.1 billion, initiated in March, with the aim of getting 1 million shells and missiles to Ukraine within a year.
Some officials and diplomats have expressed skepticism about whether that goal will be met, but the plan is a significant step in the EU's growing role in defense and military affairs, spurred by the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine goes through artillery ammunition rapidly, firing thousands of rounds a day, and Kyiv's Western allies have been scrambling to keep up.
'It was ... not sufficient only to deplete our own stocks,' Stoltenberg said Thursday in Kyiv.
The EDA said the EU deals were for both complete shells and for components such as fuses, projectiles, charges and primers.
The NATO chief also noted Thursday that Ukrainian forces are "gradually gaining ground" amid fierce fighting and he is constantly urging allies to provide more aid, boost defense production and speed up arms deliveries to Ukraine.
"The stronger Ukraine becomes, the closer we come to ending Russia's aggression," Stoltenberg told reporters in Kyiv.
Stoltenberg said it is in NATO's security interest to provide Ukraine what it needs to win the war.
In the United States, as the federal government prepares for a possible shutdown, the country's aid in the Ukrainian war effort could falter, according to Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.
Those affected by the shutdown would include Pentagon civilians involved in English-language training for Ukraine's F-16 pilots, so if there is a government shutdown, 'there could be impacts to training,' Singh said. 'At this point right now, I just don't have more specific details to offer.'
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered one of the top commanders of the Wagner military mercenary group to take charge of "volunteer units" fighting in Ukraine. Putin tasked Andrei Troshev with forming volunteer units that would fight primarily in the war zone.
Hundreds of fighters previously associated with the Wagner Group "have likely started to redeploy to Ukraine" as individuals and in small groups that are fighting for a variety of pro-Russian units, the British Defense Ministry said Friday in its daily intelligence update on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
It said reports suggest a concentration of Wagner veterans around the eastern city of Bakhmut, a sector where their past experience could be useful.
Their redeployment follows Yevgeny Prigozhin's death in a suspicious plane crash on August 23, two months after the Wagner chief launched a day-long mutiny against Kremlin in June.
Some information in this report was provided by The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.