Putin blames West for provoking Ukraine war
Meanwhile, the US announced on Wednesday that it will provide $1.85bn in additional military assistance for Kyiv.
Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday again accused the West of provoking the conflict in Ukraine as part of centuries-long efforts to weaken and eventually break up Russia.
“We always considered the Ukrainian people as brotherly, and I still think so,” Putin declared while addressing defence chiefs in Moscow.
“What’s going on is certainly a tragedy, but it’s not a result of our policy. For centuries, our strategic adversaries have been setting the goal to disintegrate and weaken our country ... viewing it as too big and posing a potential threat,” the Russian president said.
Putin announced a plan to increase Russia’s military from 1 million personnel to 1.5 million.
Speaking at the meeting Putin held with top military brass, defence minister Sergei Shoigu said the 1.5 million-member military should include 695,000 volunteer contract soldiers.
Shoigu also declared plans to form new military units in western Russia to counterbalance plans by Finland and Sweden to join Nato.
Putin ordered mobilisation of 300,000 reservists in September to beef up Russia’s forces in Ukraine.
Kremlin warns US
The Kremlin warned on Wednesday that increasing the supply of US arms to Kyiv would aggravate the devastating 10-month war ignited by Russia’s illegal invasion and “does not bode well” for embattled Ukraine.
The US will provide $1.85 billion in additional military assistance for Ukraine, including a transfer of the Patriot Air Defence System, secretary of state Antony Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday.
The assistance includes a $1 billion drawdown to provide Ukraine with “expanded air defence and precision-strike capabilities” and an additional $850 million in security assistance, Blinken said.
“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.