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How will Putin’s mobilisation change the war in Ukraine? | Russia-Ukraine war News

Kyiv, Ukraine – Battle-tested and determined to win, Ukrainian soldiers consider the looming arrival of tens of thousands of mobilised Russians a minor threat.

“Their attacks will be aggressive, but not dangerous,” a serviceman, who spent several months on the front lines of the southern Mykolaiv region, told Al Jazeera.

Analysts are a bit more cautious.

On Wednesday in a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilisation of 300,000 men to “protect our motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories” of Ukraine.

But the real figure of those to be mobilised is one million men, Novaya Gazeta Europe, the exiled version of Russia’s oldest independent daily, claimed on Thursday, citing a top-secret decree and a source in Putin’s administration. The Kremlin denied this report.

The partial mobilisation follows Ukraine’s unexpected counteroffensive success in the eastern Kharkiv region that was almost fully liberated from Russian troops earlier this month.

And the Ukrainian forces are ready to counterattack in three more directions, observers say.

One is in the Luhansk region that lies south of Kharkiv, where the counteroffensive will focus along the strategic Siverskyi Donets river.

Fierce battles with heavy losses took place there in the summer after Moscow withdrew its forces from four northern regions and the capital, Kyiv.

The second direction is in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, around the town of Hulyaipole, from where Ukrainians can wedge deep into Russia-occupied areas and bisect them.

And the third is the southern region of Kherson, an entrance to the annexed Crimean peninsula that was occupied in early March, possibly due to treason by Ukrainian officials.

If the Ukrainian counteroffensive takes place in the coming days, Russia will not have time to train and deploy the newly-mobilised troops.

Russian forces “will have to use [the mobilised troops] to form a second line of defence about 100km (60 miles) away from the current front line,” Nikolay Mitrokhin, a Russia expert at Germany’s University of Bremen, told Al Jazeera.

The Russians will have to replenish their battalions that have a “huge deficit” of manpower due to heavy, disheartening losses in the past six months, he said.

“If by mid-October Ukrainian forces can break through the front lines in at least two directions and advance for at least 50km (30 miles), they will deal the Russian forces a heavy blow that will upturn the mobilisation,” Mitrokhin said.

As a result, the inevitable loss of armoured vehicles and artillery will heavily impede the revitalisation of Russia’s military might in occupied areas, he said.

But if there is no successful Ukrainian breakthrough, the Russians could restore the combat readiness of many front-line units.

“It doesn’t mean they will be ready to attack, but they could hold the front line,” Mitrokhin said.

‘We will face attacks’: Separatists

Pro-Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine are far from optimistic about the looming Ukrainian counteroffensive.

“We will face attacks from all sides, and their objective will be to dis-balance and take us apart,” Aleksandr Khodakovsky, who commands the East Battalion of pro-Russian separatists in the southeastern region of Donetsk, said on Telegram on Thursday.

“We are not dynamic, we act with inertia, and much of what we say often contradicts what we do,” he said referring to the boastful declarations from the Kremlin and separatist leaders about the further “liberation” of Ukraine.

Although Putin’s announcement of “partial mobilisation” became front-page news worldwide, Russia has already spurred up recruitment, according to rights groups, opposition figures and media reports.

Newly enlisted, mostly teenage conscripts were pressured to sign up for front-line service.

Older men with prior military experience were lured with promises of high salaries and huge compensations in case of their deaths.

Thousands of inmates were recruited from prisons across Russia to join the Wagner private army led by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef.”

“They have already been doing a partial mobilisation and only legitimised it now, got more rights to forcibly do it,” Lieutenant General Ihor Romanenko, the former deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told Al Jazeera.

But the mobilisation will unquestionably result in a logistical and financial quagmire.

“The 300,000 will have to be armed and supplied somehow, and that’s questionable,” he said.

And the quality of new recruits will be light years away from the 170,000 experienced servicemen Moscow used to invade Ukraine in February, after a year of intense training and team-building.

The Kremlin will therefore use the archaic model of massive attacks that involve huge amounts of servicemen – and gigantic losses.

This is the tactic Soviet leader Josef Stalin used against Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II. It led to the highest loss of military staff and civilian population in history – 27 million people.

“They will resort to the old Russian way of using the gang-up principle, using quantity [of servicemen], because the quality is problematic,” Romanenko said.

Ukraine will have to compensate for the quantitative increase by speeding up its counteroffensives, conducting preemptive strikes along the 2,700km-long (1,677-mile) front line, especially the 1,000km-long (620-mile) stretch of active warfare, he said.

Successful counteroffensives similar to the one in Kharkiv may even cause unrest in Russia and topple Putin’s government, Romanenko said.

“If there is a couple of such [counteroffensives], the quantity will become quality and start a domino effect that will destroy Putin and all of his coterie,” he said.

Planes and foreigners

Putin’s announcement created a sense of panic among Russian men, who rushed to buy plane tickets, sending prices flying.

Their hasty flight continues the exodus of hundreds of thousands of middle-class Russians that followed the war’s beginning in February.

Many Russian families who can afford a relocation abroad have already safeguarded their sons.

“We’re not going back, I am not risking their lives,” the mother of two sons aged 17 and 21, who moved to Montenegro in July, told Al Jazeera. “They’d better be poor and alive here than dead heroes back home.”

Apart from the mobilisation of Russian nationals, the Kremlin seeks to recruit foreigners with promises of Russian citizenship, the holy grail of millions of labour migrants from ex-Soviet republics.

The step mostly targets nationals of ex-Soviet Central Asia, the largest group of labour migrants who suffer from corrupt police and bureaucratic problems that can be solved once they get a burgundy Russian passport.

Heavily influenced by the Kremlin and their parents’ nostalgia for the Soviet era, some are already ready to volunteer.

In early August, Jahongir Jalolov, an Uzbek community leader in the Urals Mountains region of Perm, came up with the idea of creating a battalion of pro-Russian Uzbeks.

“We live and work in Russia. We don’t just need to, we ought to justify the bread we’re eating,” he said standing next to a Russian flag and addressing several dozen Uzbeks who greeted his speech with an ovation.

After Putin’s mobilisation announcement, notable Uzbeks started an online campaign urging their compatriots not to be recruited and reminding them about possible criminal persecution back home for becoming a “mercenary”.

“Listening to the ‘white czar’, I realised that Uzbeks have all the chances to take part in this suicidal war legally,” Timur Numanov, a blogger in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, told Al Jazeera.

“Today, there must be a call … to urge authorities to denounce the Uzbek-Russian treaties of alliance because the [Russian] side is inadequate,” he said.

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King Charles III to host South African leader in state visit

King Charles III will welcome South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to the U.K. for three days of high-level talks next month, celebrating the first state visit of his reign with the leader of a Commonwealth member with close ties to the royal family

LONDON — King Charles III will welcome South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to the U.K. for three days of high-level talks next month, celebrating the first state visit of his reign with the leader of a Commonwealth member with close ties to the royal family.

Ramaphosa has accepted Charles’s invitation for a state visit from Nov. 22-24, Buckingham Palace said Monday. The South African leader will be accompanied by his wife, Dr. Tshepo Motsepe.

Charles has visited South Africa on several occasions since 1997. At Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013, he said the world would be a “poorer place” without the man who led South Africa’s transition from apartheid to a multi-ethnic democracy, adding that Mandela was owed “an enormous debt of gratitude” for his achievements.

The King and Camilla, the queen consort — then the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall — welcomed former South African President Jacob Zuma to the U.K. at the start of a state visit in 2010.

Charles’ sons, Princes William and Harry, have also visited South Africa a number of times.

———

Follow all stories on the British royal family at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii

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With 52% of Brazil votes tallied, far-right incumbent Bolsonaro has a slight lead over ex-President Lula da Silva

With 52% of Brazil votes tallied, far-right incumbent Bolsonaro has a slight lead over ex-President Lula da Silva

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Haiti reports cholera deaths for first time in 3 years

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s government on Sunday announced that at least eight people have died from cholera, raising concerns about another potentially catastrophic epidemic like the one that broke out a decade ago and killed nearly 10,000 people.

The cases – the first cholera deaths reported in three years – came in a community called Dekayet in southern Port-au-Prince and in the gang-controlled seaside slum of Cite de Soleil, where thousands of people live in cramped, unsanitary conditions.

“Cholera is something that can spread very, very quickly,” warned Laure Adrien, director general of Haiti’s health ministry.

Food or water contaminated with the cholera bacteria can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration that can be deadly.

The United Nations said in a statement that it is working with Haiti’s government to “mount an emergency response to this potential outbreak,” stressing that health teams need to be guaranteed safe access to areas where cases have been reported.

The deaths come as a lack of fuel and ongoing protests shut down the availability of basic services across Haiti, including medical care and clean water, which is key to helping fight cholera and keep patients alive.

Haiti’s most powerful gang continues to control the entrance to a main fuel terminal in the capital of Port-au-Prince, leading to a lack of fuel amid soaring prices that have unleashed widespread protests that have paralyzed the country for more than two weeks.

The absence of fuel and increasing number of roadblocks have prevented water trucks from visiting neighborhoods to provide potable water to those who can afford it. It also has prompted some companies to temporarily shut down operations.

On Sunday, Caribbean Bottling Company said it could no longer produce or distribute potable water because its diesel reserves were “completely depleted,” adding that the lack of such a vital resource would affect “all sectors of society.”

Adrien said health officials were trying to visit communities where cholera has been reported, but that his agency, too, has been affected by a lack of fuel as he called on people blocking the gas terminal and organizing protests to “have a conscience.”

“This is a real problem,” he said of how the country has virtually been paralyzed. “We’re hoping this will not spread.”

Adrien noted that all those who died were unable to reach a hospital in time.

Haiti Health Minister Alex Larsen said people have a right to protest but asked Haitians to allow potable water supplies into neighborhoods that have been cut off by roadblocks and protests.

“Water has not been in these areas for a long time, and people are not drinking treated water,” he said, adding that cholera cases could spike again. “We ask people who can afford it to add a little chlorine to the water.”

Haiti’s last cholera epidemic sickened more than 850,000 people in a country of more than 11 million, marking one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the preventable disease in recent history.

United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for introducing cholera into Haiti’s largest river in October 2010 by sewage. The U.N. has since acknowledged it played a role in the epidemic and that is has not done enough to help fight it, but it has not specifically said it introduced the disease.

Haiti would have been declared cholera-free by the World Health Organization only after reaching three consecutive years with no new cases.

———

Associated Press writer Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.

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