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Russia has free hand in Ukraine conflict now – Putin

Moscow’s ultimate goals remain unchanged, the president has said

Russia has the initiative in the Ukraine conflict and is at liberty to conduct military action as it sees fit, President Vladimir Putin stated at a Defense Ministry meeting on Tuesday.

The president analyzed the frontline situation as part of a report on Russian military achievements in 2023. He also thanked soldiers and officers for their contributions during the event.

In his speech, Putin stressed that the country had no intention to change the objectives that it set for itself when it decided to deploy troops against Ukraine in early 2022.

Describing the current advantage of Russian troops, Putin said: “In essence, we are doing what we consider necessary, what we want. Wherever… commanders decide active defense is best, it takes place. And where it is needed, we improve our positions.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine has suffered significant casualties and is running out of reserves, the president added. He claimed that Kiev’s military strategy was motivated by a wish “to show to their true masters at least some results of their much-hyped so-called counteroffensive.”

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Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu previously estimated that Ukrainian casualties between early June and late November had surpassed 125,000. During the event on Tuesday, the ministry estimated Kiev’s losses since the start of the hostilities to be over 383,000.

Putin declared that Western attempts to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia in the Ukraine conflict were thwarted by the bravery and resolve of Russian soldiers. The country’s military has become more powerful and its defense industry more capable, he said.

Russian military researchers and workers are “reacting faster [than Westerners] to current events, to the needs of those who fight on the battlefield,” according to Putin. Defense factories have boosted arms production by 2.7 times on average in 2023, and up to seven times for the most in-demand products, he said.

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The US and its allies have pledged to assist Ukraine against Russia with arms and funds for “as long as it takes” to defeat it. But amid the lackluster results of the counteroffensive, Kiev has found securing Western long-term military and financial assistance harder.

In the US, Republican lawmakers have blocked the White House’s request for over $110 billion in foreign security spending, of which more than $60 billion was meant for Ukraine. The opposition demands concessions from the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat, on immigration and border security.

Meanwhile, the EU has failed to pass a European Commission proposal to spend €50 billion ($54 billion) from the union’s joint budget to support Ukraine over the next four years. Hungary, a long-time skeptic of the Western strategy for the conflict, vetoed it last week.

December 19, 2023 at 05:02PM

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