An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Politico that the Russian annexation of four eastern Ukrainian territories could work to their advantage as the Russian military invasion continues.
"This may sound paradoxical, but it's actually to our advantage that Russia has announced this mobilization," Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Politico 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 followed up his recent draft of more than 300,000 Russians to fight in Ukraine with a speech Friday declaring four eastern Ukrainian territories as now part of Russia after controversial referendums held in those areas.
"For our plans, [Russia's annexation] doesn't matter," Podolyak told the publication. "We will protect our land using all our forces."
According to the report, Ukraine is saying it has surrounded Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region, one of the four Putin says now belong to the Russian Federation.
"Virtually all approaches, logistics routes of the enemy, through which it delivered ammunition and manpower, are already under our fire control," Politico reported Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for the Ukrainian eastern military grouping saying on Ukrainian television.
Podolyak said the call-up of additional Russian manpower shows the desperate straits Putin is in following Ukraine's counteroffensive the past several weeks, reclaiming several occupied territories.
"The mobilization shows that Russia has run out of a professional army," Podolyak told Politico, adding: "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."
The annexation came two days after U.S. officials announced another $1.1 billion in military aid going to Ukraine, making the total around $17 billion since Russia invaded in February.
"We will not be deterred from supporting Ukraine. We will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people and provide them with the security assistance they need to defend themselves, for as long as it takes," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
The most recent aid package includes money for 18 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition for them, 12 Titan systems to counter the use of drones, as well as funding for some 300 vehicles.
The Russian annexation, however, escalates the situation with a nuclear Russia, which Putin said could be used and is "not a bluff" if his "territory" is threatened.
"Russia does not want to negotiate — it only launches ultimatums. If the Russian army leaves the entire territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, the negotiations could resume," Podolyak said on Zelenskyy's website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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