Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu admits Russia lacks quality weapons in the Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, talks to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on February 23, 2024, in Moscow. Russia needs to increase the number and quality of its weapons to maintain Moscow's push on Ukraine's defensive lines, Shoigu has said. Contributor/Getty Images

Russia’s top defense official has underscored the immediate need for a significant increase in both the quantity and quality of weapons being sent to Ukraine as Ukraine received high-tech Western weapons. This is crucial to sustain Moscow’s ongoing offensive on Ukraine’s defensive lines, particularly in light of an anticipated summer offensive that could commence in the next few weeks.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s admission comes after Ukraine hammered Russia with Western weapons on all frontlines, including HIMARS and ATACMS strikes in Crimea. Russia’s top-line weapons systems, such as the S-400 and S-300, failed to intercept a single ATACMS missile.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has issued a stark warning, stating that a significant increase in the volume and quality of weapons and military equipment supplied to the troops is necessary. This is to maintain the required pace of the offensive and ensure the buildup of the combat strength of troop groups for further actions, a move that could have far-reaching implications for the conflict.

Deep into the third year of all-out war in Ukraine, both Russia and Ukraine have burned through their weapons, ammunition and equipment stocks.

Kyiv is heavily reliant on Western military aid to keep its forces stocked up on vital supplies, and Russia has targeted Kyiv’s defense industry with long-range strikes. Fears over the flow of military aid to Ukraine were temporarily abated last month after U.S. President Joe Biden signed off on a significant tranche of military aid for Ukraine to replenish Kyiv’s arsenals.

Moscow has poured funding into its defense industry, hiking military spending and back-filling stocks lost on the battlefields of Ukraine. In early February, Russian President Vladimir Putin said increased defense investment had created more than half a million jobs in the previous 18 months.

Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia is gearing up to launch a summer offensive on Ukrainian positions as early as the end of May. Ukraine’s own summer offensive last year failed to produce the significant gains Kyiv and the country’s Western backers had hoped for.

Russia has gained territory in eastern Ukraine during the first four months of 2024, claiming the strategic Donetsk stronghold of Avdiivka in February and moving westward in the months since. But Western analysts have said it is unclear whether Russia is preparing to launch a summer offensive in Donetsk, or whether Moscow will focus its attention further north around Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, or to the south of the country.

Ukraine has warned Russia is hoping to capture Chasiv Yar, a settlement west of the Russian-controlled eastern city of Bakhmut, ahead of Russia’s Victory Day celebrations on May 9. From Chasiv Yar, Russia would then be able to advance toward the Donetsk city of Kramatorsk, Ukraine’s army chief, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, previously warned.

Washington-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War has said the capture of Chasiv Yar would furnish Russia with a springboard to attack a number of Ukrainian cities, referred to as “fortress cities,” which form the backbone of Kyiv’s defenses.

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