Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that his army could be fighting in Ukraine for a long time, but he saw no need to mobilise additional soldiers at this point.
“As for the duration of the special military operation, well, of course, this can be a long process,” Putin said, using his preferred term to refer to the Russian invasion now in its 10th month.
But he said there was “no sense” in a second round of mobilisation at this point, after a call-up of 300,000 reservists in September and October.
Putin said that out of that total, 150,000 were now deployed in Ukraine. Of those, 77,000 were in combat units and the remainder performing defensive functions, he said.
Putin was speaking at a televised annual session of his Human Rights Council where he complained that Western rights organisations viewed Russia as “a second-class country that has no right to exist at all”.
“This is what we are dealing with,” Putin said. “There can be only one answer from our side – a consistent struggle for our national interests. We will do just that. And let no one count on anything else.”
He continued: “Yes, we will do this by various ways and means. First of all, of course, we will focus on peaceful means, but if nothing else remains, we will defend ourselves with all the means at our disposal.”
Putin was responding to comments by a member of the rights council who said Ukrainian forces were shelling residential areas of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region.
Ukraine has suffered heavy civilian casualties throughout the war. Russia denies targeting civilians.