Putin warns of Nato role in Ukraine as Zelenskyy travels to US

Moscow, Dec 21 (EFE).- Russian president Vladimir Putin warned a meeting of the top brass of the Russian defense ministry on Wednesday of Nato’s growing role in the war in Ukraine, as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was visiting the United States to shore up military support.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu denounced that there are “officers of the Nato General Staff, artillerymen and other specialists” in Ukraine and that the Ukrainian Army was receiving information from “more than 500 satellites of the USA and Nato”.

“Twenty-twenty countries have already spent $97 billion in Ukraine, much more than what the Americans left in Afghanistan,” he said.

But despite that Nato support, the Russian military “courageously achieves for Russia and step by step fulfills the goals set,” Putin said.

The Kremlin chief said that “these goals will be fulfilled on all the territories of Russia, including the new ones,” referring to the Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk, which Moscow annexed in September.

“We will ensure the safe life of all our citizens,” he said.

Putin said Russia is fully committed to that end and there are “no limitations of any kind in financing, the country and the government give everything the army asks for”.

The Russian president insisted the country would “not repeat the mistakes of the past, when we destroyed our economy to increase defense.”

“We will not militarize the country and militarize the economy, first of all because the level of development achieved today, the structure of the economy, do not require it,” he noted.

Putin announced the age of military service is to increase from 18 to 21 years old

But the Russian defense minister did announce a series of reforms of the army, such as the increase of the age of military service from 18 to 21 years old and raising the number of soldiers to 1.5 million, including almost 700,000 professional military personnel.

Among the measures announced are the creation of new air units, two new military districts, those of Moscow and Leningrad, previously included in the Western Military District, and the strengthening of the Russian military contingent in the northwest of the country, to counteract the entry of Sweden and Finland into Nato.

In addition, Russia will strengthen its strategic forces in 2023 with new Yars, Avangard and Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile systems, as well as three Tu-160M strategic bombers, five submarines and 12 warships. EFE

int/ks