President Vladimir Putin has said there is no need for an additional mobilization of men for the war in Ukraine for now, but said further mobilization will depend on what Russia wants to achieve there.
“There is no such need today,” Putin said Tuesday at a televised meeting of Russian war correspondents and military bloggers when asked about another mobilization.
Last year, about 300,000 reservists were called up in what the Russian president referred to as “partial mobilization.”
“Some public figures say we should get a million or two million,” Putin said. “It depends on what we want.”
“Should we go back there?” Putin said of Kiev, which Russian troops failed to take in the early stages of what he called his “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Putin also said Russia needed to fight enemy agents and improve its defenses against attacks deep inside its own territory, but there was no need to follow Ukraine’s example and declare martial law.
Putin said there is no reason to introduce any kind of special regime or martial law in the country. “There’s no need for anything like that today.”
A large-scale counteroffensive in Ukraine began on June 4 and was not successful in any case, Putin said. He said Ukraine was suffering massive losses and casualties in Kiev were 10 times higher than in Moscow.
Ukraine has lost more than 160 of its tanks and 25 percent – 30 percent of its foreign-supplied vehicles, he said, while Russia has lost 54 tanks.
His assessment came hours after Russia claimed it had seized Western armored vehicles from Kiev’s forces on the battlefield and after a deadly Russian missile attack on the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Their losses have reached a point that can be described as catastrophic,” Putin said.
Kiev said it had recaptured several villages from Russian forces in recent days, and on Tuesday NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Ukrainians were advancing their counteroffensive and gaining ground.
In brief remarks ahead of his meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Stoltenberg said the NATO alliance was preparing for a summit of leaders in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where it is expected to increase support for Ukraine.
‘Not enough’ ammo, drones
The Russian leader declined to say whether Moscow would launch a new offensive in Ukraine in response to Kiev’s own counteroffensive, saying Russia’s plans would depend on its military capabilities.
Talking about weapons, Putin said that the quality of Russian weapons is improving, but the country lacks high-precision ammunition and drones.
“During the special military operation, it became clear that many things were lacking,” Putin said. “We have high-precision ammunition, communication equipment, drones, etc., but unfortunately, not enough.”
Putin said Russia had increased its production of basic weapons 2.7 times over last year, and he also accused the West of pumping weapons into Ukraine.
He added that Russia was open to peace talks but that the only way to end the conflict was for Western countries to end their arms supplies to Kiev.
The comments came shortly before the United States announced a new $325 million military aid package for Ukraine that will include air defense systems, ammunition and munitions for vehicles.
Aid is being sent to Ukraine using Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to transfer goods and services from the US stockpile during an emergency without congressional approval.
Putin also repeated his accusations that the West is seeking to defeat Russia in Ukraine and said Moscow has its own “peace plan”.
Putin is considering abandoning the Black Sea Crops Agreement
The Russian leader also said he supported a Defense Ministry order allowing private military companies to sign contracts with it before July 1, something the high-profile Wagner Group has refused to do.
Earlier on Tuesday, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said he was unsure whether his men would continue fighting in Ukraine amid a bitter standoff with the Defense Ministry, with which he has long been at loggerheads.
Meanwhile, Russia is considering pulling out of the landmark Black Sea grain deal that allowed grain from Ukraine to reach world markets, with Putin saying Moscow has been “tricked” into implementing parts of the deal that relate to its own exports.
“We are now thinking about whether to withdraw from the grain agreement,” Putin said.
Putin said the deal was intended to help “friendly” countries in Africa and Latin America, but Europe was the largest importer of Ukrainian grain and was providing Kiev with a key source of foreign exchange.
He accused Kiev of using maritime corridors to “launch maritime drones” to provide safe passage for ships carrying grain.
Putin said he would discuss the future of the grain deal with some African leaders who were expected to visit Russia, with Moscow set to offer free grain to some of the world’s poorest countries.
The agreement was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July and allows safe grain exports from several Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea.
The West has not imposed restrictions on Russian grain and other food exports but has been hampered by other restrictions on insurance and other areas.