The new Russian general in charge of operations in Ukraine has said military reforms will respond to NATO’s possible expansion and the “collective West”, which he accused of waging a hybrid war against Moscow.
In his first public comments, Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s military general staff, admitted problems with mobilising troops and broader challenges in the conflict that began 11 months ago.
“The system of mobilisation training in our country was not fully adapted to the new modern economic relations,” Gerasimov told the news website Argumenty i Fakty, in remarks published late on Monday.
“So I had to fix everything on the go.”
Military reforms announced mid-January could be adjusted to respond to security threats, he warned.
“Today, such [security] threats include the aspirations of the North Atlantic Alliance to expand to Finland and Sweden, as well as the use of Ukraine as a tool for waging a hybrid war against our country,” he said.
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO last year, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Plans also call for two additional military districts in Moscow and Leningrad and three motorised rifle divisions as part of combined arms formations in Kherson and Zaporizhia – regions Russia claims it “annexed” in September after referendums denounced on the international stage as meaningless.
Russia’s defence ministry has faced increasing criticism for battlefield losses and Moscow’s failure to secure victory in a campaign the Kremlin had expected to take just a short time.
But Gerasimov said modern Russia has never seen such “intensity of military hostilities”, forcing it to carry out offensive operations to stabilise the situation.
“Our country and its armed forces are today acting against the entire collective West,” he said.
Western allies are supporting Ukraine in its efforts to defeat Russian forces by supplying weapons, ammunition and humanitarian support.
But as the war reaches its anniversary, the goals of Russia’s “special military operation” have shifted.
What began as an operation to “denazify” and “demilitarise” Ukraine is now referred to as a defence against Western hostility and a unipolar world.
“The main goal of this work is to ensure guaranteed protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country,” Gerasimov said.