Putin Hints Russian Army Is Struggling Amid Reports Of Belarusian Intervention

Belarusian soldiers were previously considered "inferior" to their Russian counterparts.
Putin speaks during an expanded meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry Board at the National Defence Control Centre in Moscow, on December 21, 2022.
Putin speaks during an expanded meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry Board at the National Defence Control Centre in Moscow, on December 21, 2022.

Vladimir Putin appeared to confirm reports that all was not well within the Russian Army ranks in an unusual speech on Wednesday.

The Russian president, who has rarely acknowledged the problems his forces face in the Ukraine war, listed all the areas where his troops need to improve during a speech to the ministry of defence in Moscow.

He said that drones have to communicate targeting information “in real time”, following claims from Kyiv that many Russian drones have been shot down before reaching their intended destinations.

He also said the military needs to “improve the command and control system”, and its ability to hit back at enemy artillery.

Throughout the war, there’s been speculation that senior commanders have been fired for their failings on the war front, while the freshly mobilised troops are being poorly trained and confused by their superiors’ instructions.

Putin also asked officers to make sure soldiers have “medical kits, food, dry rations, uniforms, footwear, protective helmets and bulletproof vests” at the frontline too, following widespread reports that troops were without essential equipment and running low on morale.

Despite this tacit acknowledgement that the invasion was not going to plan – after all, what was meant to be a 10-day battle has become a 10-month war – Putin indicated that there was still no plan to withdraw.

“We have no limits in terms of financing,” he added: “The country and the government are providing everything that the army asks for – everything.”

Putin also compared the Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine to the “heroes” who fought off Napoleon in 1812 and defeated Hitler in 1945.

It comes as the UK ministry of defence’s latest update suggested that Russia was having to lean on military support from Belarus.

It read: “Although Russia and Belarus prominently publicise Russian units’ deployment into Belarus, the armed forces of Belarus have likely recently taken on a significant, but more discreet role in training thousands of newly mobilised Russian reservists.

“The likely use of Belarusian instructors is an attempt to partially remediate the lack of Russian military trainers, many of whom are deployed in Ukraine or have become casualties.

“Although Russia and Belarus have an extensive background of military co-operation, the training of mobilised Russian personnel by Belarusians represents a role reversal.

“Belarusian forces have traditionally been considered by Russia as inferior to Russian forces and their employment as trainers is an indication of overstretch within the Russian military system.”

Meanwhile, Putin’s Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy has secured international headlines by making his first overseas trip since the invasion began and visiting the White House.


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