Kyiv’s top general says Ukraine needs fewer troops than expected

By Thomson Reuters Mar 29, 2024 | 4:48 AM

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s military will need to mobilise fewer people than initially expected to fend off Russia’s two-year-old invasion, Kyiv’s top general said on Friday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in December that his military had proposed mobilising up to 500,000 more Ukrainians into the armed forces as Russia stepped up attacks along the 1,000-km (621-mile) front line.

Commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was appointed last month, said in an interview with Ukrainian media published on Friday that the figure had been “significantly reduced” after a review of resources.

He did not name a new figure.

“We expect that we will have enough people capable of defending their motherland,” told the Ukrinform news agency. “I am talking not only about the mobilized but also about volunteer fighters.”

Ukraine’s mobilisation effort has been hobbled by waning enthusiasm and reports of corruption and abuse at draft offices. A bill that would allow officials to call up more troops is currently winding its way through parliament.

Syrskyi added that an audit of non-combat units had allowed military planners to send “thousands” of service members to the front, and that combat-support roles were “equally important” in Kyiv’s defence effort.

“The war that we are forced to wage against the Russian invaders is a war of attrition, a war of logistics,” he said. “Therefore, the importance of the effectiveness of rear units cannot be underestimated.”

The former ground forces chief also said “powerful” defensive lines were being prepared “in almost all threatening areas” as Russia keeps up its attacks.

The eastern city of Avdiivka fell to Moscow in mid-February after a months-long assault in which Ukrainian defenders had been outgunned and outnumbered.

In the Ukrinform interview, Syrskyi said his forces would have “definitely” kept their positions if Kyiv had received more ammunition and air defence capabilites from its Western partners.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)