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Russia to make “major changes“ to armed forces from 2023 to 2026


Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visits headquarters of East military group of Russian troops involved in Ukraine, at unidentified location in an image released January 17, 2023. Russian Defence Ministry/Vadim Savitsky/Handout via REUTERS

Russia said on Tuesday that it would make “major changes” to its armed forces from 2023 to 2026, promising to shake up its military structure after months of setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine.

In addition to administrative reforms, the Defence Ministry said it would strengthen the combat capabilities of its naval, aerospace and strategic missile forces.

“Only by strengthening the key structural components of the Armed Forces is it possible to guarantee the military security of the state and protect new entities and critical facilities of the Russian Federation,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the changes had been made necessary by the “proxy war” being conducted in Ukraine by the West, which has been sending increasingly heavy weaponry to Ukraine to help it resist Russian forces.

The defence ministry, which has faced sharp domestic criticism for the ineffectiveness of its drive to take control of large tracts of Ukraine, vowed in December to boost its military personnel to 1.5 million.

It has made numerous changes to its leadership in the 11 months of what it terms a “special military operation”, in which its forces initially seized large areas of southern and eastern Ukraine but have since suffered a series of painful defeats and retreats.

Last week, Shoigu appointed Army General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the military general staff, to take charge of the Ukraine campaign.

The Defence Ministry said on Friday that it had taken control of Soledar – a small, salt-mining town in Ukraine’s Donetsk region that had for weeks been the focus of a Russian assault.