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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s escalation of war on Wednesday in calling for a conscript to join the fight in Ukraine will mean more soldiers will need weapons that Moscow cannot provide.

“Any mobilization will add to the number of troops and forces they have,” Stoltenberg said during an interview at the 77th UN General Assembly in New York City. “It will take time and they will require equipment. And what we have seen so far is that the Russian troops are poorly equipped.”

In a seven-minute pre-televised speech Putin said he was launching a “partial mobilization” by enlisting all able-bodied reservists and veterans to fight in Ukraine.

Russian soldiers train for the military parade in Moscow, April 8, 2010.
(REUTERS)

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“Citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to draft,” he said early Wednesday. “And above all, those who have served in the armed forces have some military specialization and relevant experience.”

His order comes about a week after Russia suffered significant setbacks in Ukraine as its forces in the northern Kharkiv region were forced to withdraw.

The long-awaited counter-offensive first leaked in May managed to surprise Russian forces in the northern region and resulted in a hasty withdrawal, abandoned equipment, and reports of command and control failure across all Russian ranks.

In this image from the video released by the Russian presidential press service, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in Moscow on Wednesday 21 September 2022.

In this image from the video released by the Russian presidential press service, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in Moscow on Wednesday 21 September 2022.
(Russian presidential press service via AP)

According to a senior Ukrainian Defense Ministry official, Russia also experienced high personnel losses, losing “nine to ten” Russian soldiers for every Ukrainian, although the death toll during the war was not independently verified by Fox News Digital.

Western defense officials said the retreat meant Russia’s inability not only to rearm its forces but to add men back to the ranks.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday said around 300,000 men can expect to be drafted into active duty under Putin’s order, though Stoltenberg said he was reluctant to accept these figures.

“I think we should be careful with the exact numbers,” he told a Reuters reporter. “But obviously, more troops will increase the conflict, which will mean more suffering, more loss of life, Ukrainian lives, but also Russian lives.”

A damaged Russian military vehicle and military boots were seen following the withdrawal of Russian forces as the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 14, 2022.

A damaged Russian military vehicle and military boots were seen following the withdrawal of Russian forces as the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 14, 2022.
(Metin Aktas Agency / Anadolu via Getty Images)

The NATO chief said the quickest way to end the war would be for Putin to recognize his “major strategic failures” and withdraw his troops.

However, Putin’s reluctance to end his invasion means that NATO will have to continue supporting Ukraine for as long as necessary, he added.

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“It’s a very close link between strength on the battlefield and what they can achieve on the negotiating table,” Stoltenberg said. “The way we can help ensure that there is an acceptable negotiated result is through support [Ukraine] on the battlefield.

“If President Putin stops fighting, there will be peace. If President Zelenskyy stops fighting, Ukraine will cease to exist as an independent sovereign nation, so we must support it to allow for a political solution,” he added.

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