An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s recently declared mobilization of additional troops is “actually to our advantage.”
“This may sound paradoxical, but it’s actually to our advantage that Russia has announced this mobilization,” Mykhailo Podolyak told Politico in an interview published Friday. “This shows the people of Russia that the country really is at war, that it’s not doing very well in this war, and that the Russians themselves will be the ones to pay the price.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial military call-up of what Kremlin officials said could be as many as 300,000 additional troops last week, as Ukrainian forces made major gains in a counteroffensive in the eastern part of the country. The mobilization announcement resulted in swift backlash from Russian citizens, who scrambled to leave the country and staged anti-war demonstrations where hundreds of protestors were arrested.
“The mobilization shows that Russia has run out of a professional army,” Podolyak told Politico. “This army is being replaced by absolutely untrained people. A living resource has been thrown onto the front lines, and it will simply be exterminated.”
In Putin’s latest escalation in the war with Ukraine, the Russian president formally announced the annexation of four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine on Friday. However, Podolyak dismissed the move as unimportant.
“For our plans, [annexation] doesn’t matter,” he said.
Russian troops on Saturday withdrew from the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region – one of the four regions that Putin had laid claim to just the day before. Ukrainian officials had previously said they had surrounded the city.
Podolyak said in a separate interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Ukraine will not participate in negotiations with Russia until its forces leave Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. Russia annexed that region in 2014.
“Russia does not want to negotiate – it only launches ultimatums,” Podolyak told La Repubblica. “If the Russian army leaves the entire territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, the negotiations could resume.”
As Ukraine continues to make gains in the war, Putin has also ratcheted up his nuclear threats. He made explicit threats about using Moscow’s nuclear arsenal in the same address in which he announced the partial military call-up.
“Russia now has one card left to play in this war: nuclear weapons,” Podolyak told Politico. “Against a non-nuclear nation. That’s absurd.”
A fellow Zelensky aide, Andriy Yermak, warned in an op-ed in The Atlantic on Friday that Ukrainian intelligence agencies believe the nuclear threat from Russia is “very high.”
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This story was originally published October 1, 2022 4:45 PM.