Putin still considers Ukrainians as brotherly people and rues conflict - GulfToday

Putin still considers Ukrainians as brotherly people and rues conflict


Vladimir Putin (C) speaks with Chief of the General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov (L) and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, after a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the fighting in Ukraine as a “tragedy” but vowed to pursue his campaign there until its goals are reached, while his defence chief on Wednesday announced a plan to increase Russia’s military from 1 million personnel to 1.5 million.

Speaking at a meeting Putin held with top military brass, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the 1.5 million-member military should include 695,000 volunteer contract soldiers. He didn’t say when the increased strength would be achieved. Shoigu also declared plans to form new military units in western Russia to counterbalance plans by Finland and Sweden to join Nato.

Putin ordered an unpopular mobilisation of 300,000 reservists in September to beef up Russia’s forces in Ukraine. He has said that 150,000 of them were deployed to combat zones in the neighboring country, while the rest were undergoing training. In Wednesday’s speech, Putin said 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.

The Russian leader again accused the West of provoking the conflict in Ukraine as part of centuries-long efforts to weaken and eventually break up Russia. Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected such rhetoric and described the Russian attack as an unprovoked act of aggression.

“We always considered the Ukrainian people as brotherly, and I still think so,” Putin declared on Wednesday. “What’s going on is certainly a tragedy, but it’s not a result of our policy.”

“For centuries, our strategic adversaries have been setting the goal to disintegrate and weaken our country ... viewing it as too big and posing a potential threat,” Putin said Putin vowed that what he termed a “special military operation” would continue until its tasks are completed. “I don’t have any doubt that all the goals set will be achieved,” he said.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Washington on Wednesday to meet President Joe Biden, address Congress and seek “weapons, weapons and more weapons” in his first overseas trip 300 days since Russia invaded its neighbour.

An official confirmed that a US Air Force jet carrying the Ukrainian leader landed at Joint Base Andrews, just outside the capital. Zelensky said on his Twitter account before his arrival that the visit, his first known trip outside Ukraine since the war began in February, was “to strengthen resilience and defence capabilities” of Ukraine and to discuss cooperation with the United States.

“I’m thrilled to have you here,” Biden tweeted shortly before Zelensky’s arrival. Television footage showed the plane being met by a large convoy on the runway. Lawmakers compared his trip to Winston Churchill’s Christmas-time appearance in the Capitol in 1941, days after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II.

“It is particularly poignant for me to be present when another heroic leader addresses the Congress in a time of war — and with democracy itself on the line,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a champion of Ukraine whose invitation to Zelensky will be one of her last acts before Republicans take control. ‘US ARMS


Also during the day, the Kremlin warned that increasing the supply of US arms to Ukraine would aggravate the devastating 10-month war ignited by Russia’s invasion. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the expansion of Western weapon supplies to Ukraine “leads to an aggravation of the conflict and, in fact, does not bode well for Ukraine.”

Peskov’s comments were the first official Russian reaction to news that Zelensky was heading to Washington in his first known foreign trip since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion triggered a war that has killed thousands and laid waste to towns and cities across Ukraine. Moscow also was involved in high-level diplomacy.

The deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, met on Wednesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Medvedev, a former Russian president, said in a video statement that he and Xi discussed an array of topics, including “the conflict in Ukraine.”

Medvedev did not elaborate. China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and criticised sanctions against Moscow. Beijing has only referred to the invasion as the “Ukraine situation” in deference to Moscow, and accused the US and Nato of provoking Putin by expanding into eastern Europe. In Ukraine, Russian forces pounded populated areas with more missiles and artillery on Wednesday.


Related articles