Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia will continue developing its military potential and the combat readiness of its nuclear forces against the backdrop of Moscow’s offensive in Western-backed Ukraine.
“The armed forces and combat capabilities of our armed forces are increasing constantly and every day. And this process, of course, we will build up on,” Putin said during a televised meeting with his country’s high-ranking officers.
He added that Russia will also “improve the combat readiness of our nuclear triad.”
The Russian leader highlighted the new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, which Russian troops will be able to use beginning January.
“In early January, the Admiral Gorshkov frigate will be equipped with the new Zircon hypersonic missile, which has no equivalent in the world,” Putin said.
Nearly ten months into the fighting, Russia has faced a series of humiliating setbacks on the ground in Ukraine.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday that Russian servicemen in Ukraine are fighting “the combined forces of the West” there.
He added that Moscow plans to use two Ukrainian port cities on the Sea of Azov that its troops seized during the offensive — Berdyansk and Mariupol — as naval bases.
The defense minister also said it was necessary to increase the number of combat personnel in Russia’s army to 1.5 million troops.
He also proposed widening the age range for mandatory military service — currently between 18 and 27 — to 21 and 30.
Putin said he “agreed to the suggestions for further structural changes to the armed forces,” adding that the reforms would not lead to the “militarisation” of the country.
“We don’t have any limits on funding. The country and the government is giving everything that the army asks for, everything,” Putin added.
The Russian leader paid homage to fallen soldiers during the ceremony.
He described the conflict in Ukraine as a “shared tragedy” but placed blame for the outbreak of hostilities on Ukraine and its allies, not Moscow.
“What is happening is, of course, a tragedy — our shared tragedy. But it is not the result of our policy. It is the result of the policy of third countries.”