The Daily Telegraph

Mobilisati­on ends as army admits blunders

- By James Kilner

MOSCOW has stopped mobilising men for war in Ukraine a week earlier than expected, as the Kremlin attempts to defuse the public backlash against the unpopular draft.

Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said that mobilisati­on “had been completed” and would end at 2pm yesterday. “Mobilisati­on has become a huge test for thousands of Moscow families whose fathers, husbands and sons are now serving in the army,” he said.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, had said on Friday that his mobilisati­on process would be completed in a fortnight, once 300,000 men had been recruited.

The first Russian mobilisati­on since 1941 has been criticised both inside and outside of Russia for being chaotic.

Authoritie­s admitted “mistakes”, with older or inexperien­ced men receiving draft papers in error. Mobilised men have also complained that they have not been given enough food or training.

In the days and weeks after the call-up was announced, hundreds of thousands of people, mainly middle-class profession­als such as IT workers, fled the country, triggering businesses to talk of a “brain drain”.

Now, the first bodies of dead men mobilised only three weeks ago are already arriving back in Russia from Ukraine. The authoritie­s are worried about increased discontent, especially in Moscow and St Petersburg.

A video captured the moment in a Moscow recruitmen­t centre when mobilisati­on was cancelled. The sense of relief is palpable.

“Free people, your summons have been annulled,” said a recruitmen­t officer standing in the middle of the office.

“Did you hear that?” said a man filming the scene.

Another man off-camera said: “We can breathe”.

Mr Putin, Russia’s president, had wanted to avoid mobilisati­on in Russia but, on the backfoot on the battlefiel­d, he relented and last month ordered what he said was a “partial mobilisati­on”.

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