Russia declares end of mobilization for Ukraine

STORY: Russia announced on Friday it had finished calling up reservists to fight in Ukraine, after drafting hundreds of thousands of people in a month, with more than a quarter of them already sent into battle.

The divisive draft - Russia's first since World War Two - sent tens of thousands of men fleeing the country and gave rise to the first sustained public protests against the war. President Vladimir Putin ordered the call-up in September after suffering battlefield losses.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu delivered the news to Putin in a televised meeting Friday.

"The dispatch of citizens called for mobilization was completed today. Citizen notification has been discontinued. The task set by you of mobilizing 300,000 people has been completed. No further measures are planned."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday said he doubted Moscow was finished calling soldiers up.

“We get a very different feeling from the frontline. Even though Russia tries to put pressure on our positions using conscripts they are so poorly prepared, equipped, so brutally used by their command that it allows us to predict: very soon Russia may need a new wave of people sent to the war. We are preparing for this.“

On the front, Kyiv has continued to make gains.

Ukrainian forces in the south have advanced toward Kherson, the biggest city Russia has captured intact since the invasion in February.

But the advance appears to have slowed in recent days, with Kyiv blaming bad weather and tough terrain.

On Friday, troops dug into muddy trench lines north of the city exchanged rocket, mortar and artillery fire with Russian troops less than a mile away.

A soldier who gave his name as Vadym said the shelling never stops.

"There is constant shelling every day, mornings and nights, all day long. Artillery, cluster bombs even though they are banned. Shelling every day."

Putin's escalation in recent weeks has also included a new campaign to rain down missiles and Iranian-made suicide drones on Ukrainian civil infrastructure targets, knocking out electricity.

Kyiv says the strikes meant to freeze Ukrainians in winter are an intentional war crime. Moscow, which calls its invasion a "special military operation", says it is permitted as retaliation for Ukrainian attacks including a blast on a bridge to Crimea.

The United States, meanwhile, announced it would send another $275 million in military assistance to Ukraine, including arms, munitions and equipment from Pentagon inventories, bringing U.S. military assistance to the country under the Biden administration to more than $18.5 billion