Putin scrambles to increase arms production for Ukraine war

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin, facing military production delays and mounting losses, urged his government on Tuesday to cut bureaucracy to produce enough weapons and supplies to fuel Ukraine’s war. , where a Ukrainian counter-offensive armed by the West drove back the Russian forces.

In other developments, Ukrainian authorities have asked citizens not to return home and tax the country’s dilapidated energy infrastructure more, and Western countries have considered how to rebuild Ukraine at the end of the war. .

The shortcomings of the Russian military in the eight-month war were so pronounced that Putin had to create a structure to try to remedy them. On Tuesday, he chaired a new committee designed to speed up the production and delivery of weapons and supplies for Russian troops, stressing the need to “take a higher pace in all areas”.

Russian news reports have acknowledged that many of those called up as part of a mobilization of 300,000 reservists ordered by Putin have not received basic equipment like medical kits and body armor, and had to find theirs. Other reports suggest that Russian troops are increasingly being forced to use old and sometimes unreliable equipment and that some of the newly mobilized troops are being rushed to the front lines with little training. Last week, Putin tried to show that all was well by visiting a training site in Russia where he was shown well-equipped soldiers.

To replace increasingly scarce Russian-made long-range precision weapons, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia would likely use large numbers of drones to try to penetrate Ukraine’s air defences. Russia’s “artillery ammunition is running out,” the British report said on Tuesday.

The Institute for the Study of War in Washington added that “the slower pace of Russian air, missile and drone strikes may reflect dwindling missile and drone stockpiles and limited strike effectiveness. to achieve Russian strategic military objectives”.

The Russian army still managed to inflict heavy damage and casualties, destroying houses, public buildings and the Ukrainian power grid. The World Bank estimates the damage to Ukraine so far at 350 billion euros ($345 billion).

Recent Russian attacks have largely focused on Ukraine’s energy facilities, particularly electricity generation and transmission. Electricity shortages are so severe that Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk on Tuesday urged citizens living abroad not to return this winter to avoid further overloading electricity supplies.

“We have to survive the winter but, unfortunately, the (power) networks will not survive,” Vereshchuk told Ukrainian television. “We understand that the situation will only get worse and this winter we have to survive.”

In Berlin, European Union leaders gathered experts to work on a ‘new Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine’s reconstruction – a reference to the US-sponsored plan that helped revive Ukraine’s economies. Western Europe after World War II.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the meeting was about “how to secure and sustain funding for Ukraine’s recovery, reconstruction and modernization for years and decades to come.”

Scholz, who co-hosted the meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said he sought “nothing less than the creation of a new Marshall Plan for the 21st century – a generational task. which must begin now”.

On the diplomatic front, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Kyiv after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday that his country will continue to stand with Ukraine in this war and support its people for as long necessary – by helping to rebuild the destroyed country and sending more weapons.

“Reconstruction does not wait for the end of the war. It must start now,” said the German president, adding that “not only is Germany helping with reconstruction, but we are also helping Ukraine prevent brutal destruction, to ensure that the population is protected from the best possible way. ”

He promised that Germany would help rebuild destroyed cities immediately and send two more MARS medium artillery missile systems and four Type 2000 self-propelled howitzers.

On the front line, Russian missiles set fire to a petrol station in the south-central town of Dnipro on Tuesday evening, killing a pregnant woman in her car and the operator of a car wash there, while injuring at least three people, according to Ukrainian news agencies. reported.

In the southern city of Mykolaiv, residents lined up on Tuesday for water and essential supplies as Ukrainian forces advanced towards the nearby Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

One of Moscow’s allies on Tuesday urged Russia to step up the pace and scale of Ukraine’s destruction.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechnya regional leader who has sent troops to fight in Ukraine, has urged Moscow to wipe entire towns off the map in retaliation for Ukraine’s bombardment of Russian territory. Authorities in Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions that border Ukraine have repeatedly reported Ukrainian shelling that damaged infrastructure and residential buildings.

“Our response was too weak,” Kadyrov said on his messaging app channel. “If a shell flies into our area, entire towns must be wiped off the face of the earth so they never think they can fire in our direction.”

Kyiv wants to step up the fight, but says it needs more war material.

“We need more weapons, we need more ammunition to win this war,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told reporters in Berlin. He added: “We need tanks from our partners, from all of our partners; we need heavy armored vehicles, we need additional artillery units, howitzers.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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