Vladimir Putin vows to win in Ukraine
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.
In Wednesday’s speech, 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. When Putin sent his troops into Ukraine in February, he said the action was aimed at the “demilitarization” of Ukraine.