Russia is facing nearly the entire military potential of NATO in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday during an extended meeting of the Board of the Ministry of Defense.
The Russian president also commented on what led up to the current conflict with Kiev and noted the importance of modernizing the country’s nuclear potential in order to maintain sovereignty.
Here’s a recap of the main points from Putin’s speech.
Confrontation with West
Putin said Moscow’s “strategic opponents” have always tried to “cut down” and “break up” Russia because they believe the country is “too big” and poses a threat. He noted that this was something the West had been trying to achieve for centuries.
Russia, meanwhile, has always hoped and tried to become a part of the so-called “civilized world” but has come to realize that it is simply not welcome there, according to Putin.
Ukraine as brotherly nation
Russia spent years doing everything it could to build not just neighborly, but brotherly relations with Ukraine, and nothing worked, said Putin, noting that “we have always considered Ukrainians to be a brotherly people.”
“I still believe that. Everything that is happening is a tragedy. Our common tragedy. But it is not the result of our policies,” the president said.
He added that Russia’s geopolitical opponents have started to use a wide range of means to further their goals, including meddling in the internal affairs of the former Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, which ultimately led to the ongoing conflict with Kiev. Thus, it had become “inevitable,” the president concluded.
NATO against Russia
Putin stated that NATO was currently using the military potential of nearly all of its member states against Moscow.
However, he noted that Russia had learned a lot from its mistakes in the past and would not harm itself by militarizing the nation.
“We will not militarize the country and we will not militarize the economy,” Putin proclaimed, stressing that Russia’s current level of development simply doesn’t require such measures.
He added that Russian military leaders have been tasked with studying NATO’s tactics and capabilities and have been asked to consider this information in the training and equipment of Russia’s own forces.
Russia’s nuclear arsenal is the key guarantor of its sovereignty, Putin said, noting that new weapons will soon enter into service and commit to the development of the country’s defensive capabilities.
The president said Russia will continue to maintain and improve its nuclear triad, which comprises missiles fired from aircraft, submarines, and ground-based mobile launchers and silos.
Modernizing the Russian military
The president emphasized the need to bolster the use of drones in the Russian army and pointed to the country’s experience in developing underwater unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which he said should be improved upon to create more advanced air and ground drones.
He suggested modernizing communication systems and incorporating artificial intelligence technologies across all decision-making levels, noting that fast and automated systems have proven to be the most effective on the battlefield.
The president also approved a number of structural changes proposed by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in response to NATO bolstering its forces on the border with Russia and potentially extending membership to Finland and Sweden.