MOSCOW: More than 200,000 people have been conscripted into the Russian army since President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilisation drive on September 21, Moscow's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday, reports AFP.
"As of today more than 200,000 people have entered the army," Shoigu during a televised meeting.
The Kremlin's mobilisation has led to some protests and an exodus of men of military age -- with tens of thousands fleeing the draft, mainly to ex-Soviet neighbours. Kazakhstan said Tuesday that more than 200,000 Russians had crossed into it in two weeks.
Putin stepped in last week to calm fears and urged authorities to "correct all mistakes" with the mobilisation.
Shoigu on Tuesday demanded that military and navy commanders help "quickly adapt the recruits to combat".
He called on them to "conduct additional training with (the mobilised) under the guidance of officers with combat experience". He said mobilised people can only be sent to fighting zones after "training and combat coordination". The Russian defence minister also called on army recruitment centres not to turn away volunteers "if there are no serious reasons".
Meanwhile, Russian forces in the Ukrainian region of Kherson, recently annexed by Moscow, have been coming under fierce attack by Kyiv's army in recent days, the Moscow-installed region's governor said in an interview published Tuesday.
Observers of the conflict in recent days have said Ukraine's forces are pushing deeper into Russian-controlled territory, particularly in the north of the region on the west bank of the river Dniepr.
The Moscow-installed governor of Kherson Vladimir Saldo said in an interview taken Monday and published on his official channel Tuesday that Ukrainian forces had made gains around the village of Dudchany.
"The breakthrough did not last long. Today, when the aviation began to work, a lot of Ukrainian armoured vehicles and personnel were destroyed," he said.
His deputy, Kirill Stremousov, said on social media Tuesday that the Ukrainian advance towards the village had been stopped and that "there is no panic".
The Russian Telegram channel, Rybar, which tracks Russian military in Ukraine, said Kyiv's forces were advancing around Dudchany and another village, Arkhanhelske, with the aim to "cut off supplies from the Russian group on the right bank of the Dniepr".
With a population of one million before the war, Kherson is a key agricultural area and forms the gateway to the Crimean peninsula.
According to Russian news agencies and unconfirmed social media reports, partisans have attacked Russian occupation units and officials, while Ukrainian forces have destroyed river bridges, leaving Russian units at risk of entrapment.
Some 80 percent of the region is estimated to be under Russian control.