President Vladimir Putin’s defense minister has pledged to build a deeper arsenal of weapons, bolster aviation technology to better evade air defenses, and improve drone production after a series of battlefield humiliations in Ukraine. Since Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, the once mighty army of a former superpower has been repeatedly outwitted by the smaller Ukrainian army, which is supported by the United States and its European allies. The conflict has turned into a grinding war of attrition that has killed and wounded tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, as well as Ukrainian civilians. Though there is no end in sight, and both sides are re-arming as fast as they can.
Defense minister Sergei Shoigu told top generals that to renew the army, they would have to take into account the experience of fighting in the Syrian civil war, where Russia intervened on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. Shoigu said Russia would continue to develop its nuclear triad of ballistic missiles, submarines, and strategic bombers because such weapons were “the main guarantee of its sovereignty”. On conventional weapons, Shoigu gave a remarkably frank analysis of where Russia needed to improve. Shoigu said the military commissariats, which are responsible for drafting soldiers, needed to be modernized.
After Putin ordered on September 21 what he cast as a “partial mobilization”, Russia’s first since World War II, about 300,000 additional men were drafted, though several hundred thousand more Russian men fled abroad to avoid being called up. “We need to digitize our databases and interact with local and regional authorities and industry,” Shoigu said of the commissariat.