About 21 months after the start of the aggressive war against Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered another increase in the size of his army. The size of the armed forces is planned to increase to about 1.32 million in the future, according to a decree published by the Kremlin on Friday. This would be a further increase of 170,000 contract and active duty soldiers. Putin Only in the summer of 2022 did he order the size of the Russian armed forces to be increased to 1.15 million.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky spoke Friday evening about changes to the military draft. However, one of the goals is to demobilize soldiers who are already fighting. In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg criticizes narrow-minded national interests in European arms policy.

The Russian Ministry of Defense refutes fears

Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense immediately responded to the population’s concerns that a new wave of mobilization could be planned. “No mobilization is planned,” the department said. Instead, the focus is on Russian citizens voluntarily joining the military. After the last mobilization in the fall of 2022, during which about 300,000 people were called to the front, many Russians fear a second wave of mobilization.

“Changes are needed”: Zelensky announced a reform project

Zelensky promised the military reform of bills. “Everyone in Ukraine understands that changes are needed in this area,” Zelensky said in a speech published on Telegram. Thus, this will affect the conditions for the possible demobilization of front-line soldiers. The focus should also be on new potential recruits.

The reform announcement is seen as a concession to soldiers who have been largely sent to the front without replacement since Russia’s war of aggression began about 21 months ago. According to Zelensky, a solution to this problem should be worked out by the military leadership and the Ministry of Defense and submitted for approval to the General Staff. The Ukrainian president spoke about some proposals that had already been made on Friday. However, he did not provide any details about the content. Currently, about 820 thousand Ukrainians serve in the armed forces. According to the current martial law, these soldiers cannot be demobilized easily.

NATO Secretary General criticizes self-interest in arms policy

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in an interview with the ARD studio in Brussels, criticized narrow-minded national interests in European arms policy. “We can’t work together as closely as we should,” he said. This increases costs and makes it difficult to expand production. The fragmentation of the European defense industry must be solved, Stoltenberg demanded. This is about the industry’s own interests and jobs. But what matters is the big picture and the collective interest.

As an example of the need for improvement, the Norwegian cited the production of ammunition, which is currently receiving special attention due to Ukraine’s great need for a defensive campaign against Russia. It is important to not let the increased demand for ammunition only lead to higher prices, he demanded. You need a bigger offer. Scaling up production is critical.

Fire in Russia’s longest railway tunnel: suspected attack from Ukraine

The exact causes of the fire in Russia’s longest railway tunnel still remain a mystery. Citing security sources, a number of Ukrainian media reported on Friday that Ukrainian intelligence services SBU successfully carried out sabotage in the 15-kilometer Severomuysk tunnel in the Russian Republic of Buryatia, bordering Mongolia. The attack caused a fire to break out on Thursday evening, which in turn led to the tunnel being blocked. Later, a train carrying fuel wagons was deliberately blown up on a bypass route, reports from Kyiv.

On Thursday, Russian Railways only acknowledged the fact that a tank with diesel fuel had caught fire and announced a “minor delay” of trains. However, in Russian Telegram channels there was talk about several destroyed cars. Initially, these claims could not be independently verified. The Severomuysky tunnel is located on the Baikal-Amur Mainline and is considered especially important for Russia’s trade with China.

Slovak carriers blocked the border with Ukraine

The only cargo border crossing between Slovakia and Ukraine was blocked by Slovak forwarders. The reason is concerns about cheaper competition from Ukrainian transport companies. The Slovak association UNAS said it was fighting to preserve local jobs in the logistics industry. The protest in Wyshnjemecki began on Friday afternoon and had no time limit.

Slovak transport companies are joining the blockade of the Polish-Ukrainian border, which has been ongoing since the beginning of November. Organizers say they want to increase pressure on politicians to find a solution to their problems before EU transport ministers meet on Monday.

What will be important on Saturday

Fighting continues in the south and east of Ukraine. Fighting is currently reported to be particularly intense around the towns of Bakhmut, Avdeevka and Maryinka in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

JTI certified

This is how the editors workTells you when and what we report, how we handle bugs, and where our content comes from. We adhere to the principles of the Journalism Trust Initiative in reporting.