Russian officials have released footage of President Vladimir Putin meeting with former Wagner Group Chief of Staff Andrei Troshev and giving Troshev the task of establishing new “volunteer fighting units,” according to the daily intelligence update on Ukraine from the British Defense Ministry.
Saturday’s update said Troshev undertook a role in the Russian security forces around the time of Wagner fighters’ brief June insurrection. It said Troshev was “probably involved” in persuading other Wagner personnel to sign contracts with Russia.
“Many Wagner veterans,” the update said, “likely consider him a traitor.”
Meanwhile, the Russian government 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; that legislation will take effect Jan. 1. 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” there, 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 Sunday in all parts of the Russian Federation, including in the 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, 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, the country is planning to produce its own, including air defenses, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, told reporters 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 the country.
“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 strained 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 mm artillery rounds, one of the most important munitions in Ukraine’s defensive war against Russian aggression.
The effort 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.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.