Putin admits shortcomings but vows ‘no limits’ to Russia’s war spending.
President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday directed Russia’s military to overcome its equipment problems on the battlefield and assented to an increase in the size of the country’s armed forces, his latest effort to show the world that he has no intention of giving up in the war against Ukraine.
Mr. Putin said that Russia’s goals in Ukraine would “certainly” be accomplished, while comparing his invasion to the most decisive wars of recent Russian history — World War II, World War I and Russia’s war against the French forces of Napoleon in 1812. At the same time, addressing senior military officials in a televised meeting in Moscow, Mr. Putin acknowledged his army’s shortcomings and declared that the Kremlin was willing to put up whatever funds were necessary to eliminate them.
“We have no limits in terms of financing,” Mr. Putin said. “The country and the government are providing everything that the army asks for — everything.”
The Russian leader’s appearance at the annual gathering of senior military officials served as his latest attempt to convince the West, Ukraine and his own people that despite his military’s catastrophic string of failures in his invasion of Ukraine over the last 10 months, Russia will keep fighting and can overcome its challenges. The speech came against the backdrop of Wednesday’s visit to Washington by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, with the Kremlin sticking to its line that any further Western weapons deliveries to Ukraine will only prolong the war.
“All this, of course, leads to an aggravation of the conflict,” the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said Wednesday, referring to new American arms deliveries, “and, in fact, does not bode well for Ukraine.”
Mr. Putin sought to put a positive spin on the Russian military’s failures, directing commanders to learn from their mistakes. He acknowledged Russia’s shortcomings in drone warfare, declaring that drones must be able to communicate targeting information through encrypted channels “in real time.” And he nodded to the widespread reports of soldiers being sent to the front without basic equipment, telling officers to pay attention to “medical kits, food, dry rations, uniforms, footwear, protective helmets and bulletproof vests.”
Afterward, Mr. Putin’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, delivered a speech in which he detailed an expansion of the Russian military by more than 300,000 service members, to a target size of 1.5 million. It was not immediately clear whether that expansion was meant to account for the draft of about 300,000 soldiers this fall, or whether it represented an additional increase.
Mr. Shoigu also described planned structural changes, including setting up new military districts in Moscow and St. Petersburg — an implicit acknowledgment that the military’s structure before the invasion failed to deliver in Ukraine.
“I agree with your proposals,” Mr. Putin said after Mr. Shoigu’s speech.