Putin says NATO using all its potential against Russia, vows to fulfill military goals

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday vowed to fulfill the objectives of the country’s “special military operation” in Ukraine even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy left for the US to lobby for more arms.

In a speech at the yearly meeting with his defense chiefs, Putin said Moscow will meet all the goals of its military operation in Ukraine as he hailed the military leaders as “heroes”.

The Russian president said the NATO military alliance was using its full capabilities against Russia and urged the defense chiefs to use their experience gained in the past ten months in Ukraine and also in Syria.

He said battlefield losses in Ukraine were “a common tragedy” and that he continues to see the Ukrainians as a “brotherly nation”.

Pertinently, Russia launched the operation in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Putin on Wednesday said Russia’s enemies wanted to see the country disintegrate, adding that his country was forced to launch the military action due to Western “provocations”.

He pledged to give the Russian armed forces anything they ask to support the military operation in Ukraine, where the fighting continues to intensify due to Western military support to Kiev.

Putin also added that the defense ministry must accept criticism of its actions during the “special military operation” in Ukraine and that the recent mobilization drive underlined specific problems.

In his remarks, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia’s forces were destroying Ukraine’s military potential and accused the West of trying to “drag out” the conflict.

Shoigu admitted that the mobilization drive, which called up 300,000 reservists to the armed forces, proved a severe test for the country and the army but said it boosted Russia’s combat capabilities.

The minister proposed raising the age range for mandatory military service to cover citizens aged 21-30 as he said forces would continue fighting in Ukraine next year.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has warned that an increase in the supply of US arms to Ukraine will only aggravate the protracted conflict and “does not bode well” for Ukraine.

“Weapon supplies (by the US) continue, the assortment of supplied weapons is expanding. All this, of course, leads to an aggravation of the conflict and, in fact, does not bode well for Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

Peskov’s comments were the first official Russian reaction to the news that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy was heading to Washington for a meeting with US President Joe Biden.

It marks the first time Zelensky would leave the country since the start of the war in February.

He also said that Putin had no plans to meet the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi, who is expected to visit Russia on Thursday,

Grossi is reportedly visiting Russia to discuss a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia power plant which is based in Russian-controlled territory.

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