Moscow, Russia- Russia’s military troops are set to reach two million in 2023 following a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin.
The order, which will come into effect on 1 January 2023, includes a 137 000 rise in the number of combat personnel to 1.15 million.
However, Putin didn’t explain how the military will beef up its ranks and whether this would be through more conscriptions, more volunteer soldiers or a combination of both.
Regions across Russia have started to form volunteer battalions, offering lucrative short-term contracts to men aged between 18 and 60. Western intelligence has also said private military companies, including the Wagner group, are being used to reinforce Russia’s frontline forces.
In November 2017, Putin fixed the size of the number of combat personnel in Russia’s army to 1.01 million from a total armed forces headcount, including non-combatants, of 1.9 million.
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbas Republics as independent States and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc.
Russia sent its troops to Ukraine citing its failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian State. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014.
Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kyiv’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and create powerful armed forces.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday its forces used an Iskander missile to strike a military train in Chaplyne, a town of about 3 500 residents in the central Dnipropetrovsk region that was carrying Ukrainian troops and equipment to the front line in eastern Ukraine adding that the Ministry claimed more than 200 reservists were destroyed on their way to the combat zone.
Hours before the train station attack, Russia insisted it was doing its best to spare civilians, even at a cost of slowing down its offensive in Ukraine.
However, Aleksey Danilov, Ukraine’s National Security Council, said they have been gearing up for hostilities with Russia since as early as December 2019.
“We were actually preparing for the war from December 2019, and all the claims that we were not dealing with it are absolutely out of touch with reality. If we did not prepare for war, today Russian tanks would be in Warsaw, Prague, Tallinn and Vilnius,” said Danilov.
Joly to raise abortion, sexual violence in closing UN speech
OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is urging countries to uphold women’s rights and abortion access while rooting out sexual violence, as the United Nations General Assembly comes to a close.
In a speech today in New York, Joly will summarize Canada’s priorities and concerns in foreign relations.
That includes being part of “a global coalition in support of equality” that will “defend against the growing attacks on women’s rights and freedoms,” according to drafted remarks in French.
“Sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls are being rolled back or denied in too many countries,” Joly’s drafted remarks say.
“Canada will always stand up for your right to choose.”
Though the drafted section on women’s rights does not mention the United States, Joly’s comments come after months of backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court allowing states to ban abortions, with some seeking to prosecute those who help women end their pregnancies in other jurisdictions.
Joly’s remarks instead mention women targeted by autocratic governments, such as the Taliban preventing Afghan girls from attending school. She calls out Myanmar’s military junta imprisoning female democracy activists and sexually assaulting Rohingya women.
The speech cites Iran’s crackdown on protesters seeking accountability after the death of Mahsa Amini, when morality police arrested her for “unsuitable attire” in allegedly wearing a hijab improperly. Joly also notes Ukrainian women have been subjected to sexual violence by occupying Russian forces.
Joly argues deliberate policy choices are resulting in rising violence against women, who are excluded from “the negotiating table, the boardroom, the classroom.”
The speech is likely to take place around noon local time, and will include some of the themes raised last week in New York by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His remarks surrounded climate change and international development.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.
Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press
Military en route to assist with recovery efforts
Residents of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec are coming to terms with the full scope of the damage left behind after post-tropical storm Fiona tore through the region over the weekend as one of the strongest storms Canada’s East Coast has ever faced.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are being deployed to help with recovery efforts, with federal Defence Minister Anita Anand saying Sunday that about 100 troops a piece were either in place or en route to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. to provide assistance with the cleanup effort.
Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the immediate need is to provide food and shelter for those displaced by the storm, which is why the federal government is matching donations to the Canadian Red Cross.
However, he added that Ottawa will work with provinces to determine what is needed for recovery from a financial perspective, especially for Canadians who have lost everything. He said the first priority is the restoration of power and utilities, as well as clearing roadways to get essential supplies to those who need them.
At Fiona’s peak on Saturday, more than 500,000 customers across Atlantic Canada were without power, but by early Monday morning that number had been lowered to less than 300,000, with the vast majority in Nova Scotia. But even as crews workaround the clock to repair downed lines, some utility companies warned it could be days before the power is back on for everyone.
Authorities in western Newfoundland confirmed Fiona’s first Canadian fatality on Sunday. RCMP said a 73-year-old woman’s body was recovered from the water more than 24 hours after a massive wave struck her home, tearing away part of the basement. Her name was not immediately released.
The cause of death of a second person on P.E.I. has yet to be determined, but the Island’s acting director of public safety told a news conference that preliminary findings pointed towards “generator use.” No further details were provided.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Industry minister to represent Canada at former Japanese PM’s funeral
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to visit Japan and attend Tuesday’s funeral, but cancelled those plans to oversee recovery efforts after post-tropical storm Fiona ravaged much of eastern Canada and parts of Quebec.
Describing Abe as a friend and ally of Canada, Champagne says the former Japanese prime minister played an important role bringing the two countries closer together.
Trudeau was slated to meet current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as Japan prepares to take over as president of the G7 and the Liberal government finalizes its new Indo-Pacific strategy.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Champagne says he doesn’t know if he will meet Kishida on behalf of Trudeau.
But he says in addition to paying respects to Abe, he expects to meet Japanese officials to discuss the bilateral relationship and areas of mutual co-operation.
“Certainly, I think Prime Minister Kishida knows how deeply engaged we have been, certainly on the industrial, commercial and economic front,” he said.
“And we’ll be meeting with a number of people. I just don’t know if the meeting with the prime minister will still be happening.”
Champagne was in Japan delivering a speech to business representatives in Tokyo when Abe was assassinated by a gunman in July.
The industry minister says it was a surreal moment when he learned the former Japanese prime minister had been killed.
“I was literally giving a speech,” Champagne said. “I was like three-quarters into it and suddenly I started to see people looking at their phones. And someone came to the podium and advised me that something very tragic had happened.”
Abe’s state funeral is a sensitive topic in Japan, where such memorials are uncommon and the late leader’s legacy remains disputed.
Abe, a conservative nationalist in a country that embraced pacifism after the Second World War, was assassinated with a homemade firearm nearly three months ago.
In a reflection of deep divisions, an elderly man reportedly set himself on fire to protest the funeral, and more demonstrations are expected in the coming days.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2022.
— With files from The Associated Press.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
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