The Russian Defense Ministry admitted that some conscripts were taking part in its invasion of Ukraine despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial, Reuters reports.
Putin on Monday vowed that he would not send conscripts or reservists to Ukraine.
"I emphasize that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them. And there will be no additional call-up of reservists,” he said in a televised speech.
"The fixed objectives are only carried out by professional servicemen. I am sure they are guaranteeing security and peace for the Russian people in an effective manner," Putin added.
The speech came on International Women’s Day as U.S. intelligence services say Putin appears to have sent all of the troops that had amassed around Ukraine’s border in recent months into the country.
Defense ministry contradicts:
Despite Putin’s denial, the country’s defense ministry said Wednesday that some conscripts were taking part in Ukraine.
Some of the conscripts, who are serving in supply units, have been taken prisoner by the Ukrainian military, the agency said.
A state news agency reported that Putin had ordered a military investigation to punish officials who “disobeyed” his instructions to exclude conscripts from the operation.
The admission came after soldier family groups raised concerns about a number of conscripts that haven’t been heard from for weeks.
"Unfortunately, we have discovered several facts of the presence of conscripts in units taking part in the special military operation in Ukraine. Practically all such soldiers have been pulled out to Russia," the defence ministry said, vowing to prevent similar situations in the future.
Kremlin accuses US of economic war:
The Kremlin on Wednesday argued that the United States had declared an “economic war” on Russia.
“The United States has undoubtedly declared an economic war on Russia and they are waging this war. This is de facto true,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"The situation demands a rather deep analysis — those decisions announced by President Biden," Peskov said. "If you are asking me what Russia is going to do — Russia is going to do what is necessary to defend its interests."
The statement came after the US announced a ban on Russian energy imports.
"You see the bacchanalia, the hostile bacchanalia, which the West has sown — and that of course makes the situation very difficult and forces us to think seriously," Peskov said.