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Russia’s navy will be equipped with hypersonic Zircon cruise missiles within weeks

Vladimir Putin has dramatically escalated the Ukraine war again by raising his nuclear combat readiness and bolstering his troops by 350,000 to turn the tide on his failing campaign, raising fears of a global conflict.

The war-mongering despot warned the Kremlin will invest whatever necessary to increase its nuclear arsenal and vowed his much-hyped Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles will be available to his forces within weeks.

New military units will be formed on Russia’s western borders to terrorise and scold Finland and Sweden for seeking to join NATO in the face of Kremlin aggression.

The terrifying ramp-up of the war will send a chill down the spine of Western leaders after a period of relative calm and Ukrainian advancements, raising the spectre of nuclear war breaking out in Europe which would drag in NATO.

Vladimir Putin today ordered Russia to increase its nuclear combat readiness, bolster troop numbers, prepare for the use of Zircon hypersonic missiles, and sending new military units to the borders with Finland

Its timing as Volodymyr Zelensky is in the skies to Washington DC to meet with Joe Biden is a stark reminder of the possibility of the war descending into World War Three.

The US is expected to announce a huge new military support package for Kyiv, which the Kremlin has preempted with its own ambitious spending commitments.

In his speech to defence chiefs in Moscow today, Putin made a series of rare and frank concessions about his botched invasion, admitting there were ‘problems’ with his mobilisation and acknowledging vague ‘criticism’ of his military strategy.

But to reverse his fortunes, the president will spend ‘whatever it takes’ on the military, ‘improve the combat readiness of our nuclear triad’ and increase his troop numbers from 1.15million to 1.5million.

He said the country’s military should learn lessons and modernise based on its experiences in Ukraine and special emphasis will go to developing his country’s nuclear forces, which he described as ‘the main guarantee of Russia’s sovereignty’. 

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu also declared plans to form new military units in western Russia to, as Kremlin chiefs prepared for a new phase in the war which is entering its tenth month.

The nuclear-capable cutting-edge Zircon missiles, which travel at speeds of nearly 7,000mph, have ‘no equivalent in the world’, Putin claimed, although his forces have been beset with humiliation after humiliation so far in his war.

The despot vowed today: ‘We have no funding restrictions. The country and the government are providing everything that the army asks for.’

Vladimir Putin has dramatically escalated the Ukraine war again by raising his nuclear combat readiness and bolstering his troops

Vladimir Putin has dramatically escalated the Ukraine war again by raising his nuclear combat readiness and bolstering his troops

Putin said he will 'improve the combat readiness of our nuclear triad' and highlighted the new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile (pictured during tests)

Putin said he will ‘improve the combat readiness of our nuclear triad’ and highlighted the new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile (pictured during tests)

Putin also acknowledged that the call-up of 300,000 reservists that he ordered in September had not gone smoothly.

‘The partial mobilisation that was carried out revealed certain problems, as everyone well knows, which should be promptly addressed,’ he said.

The call-up drew strong criticism even from Kremlin allies, as it emerged that military commissariats were enlisting many men who were physically unfit or too old, and new recruits were lacking basic equipment such as sleeping bags and winter clothing.

Shoigu then announced a plan to increase Russia’s military to 1.5million, inclueding 695,000 volunteer contract soldiers.

He did not say when the increased strength will be achieved. 

Putin also referred to other unspecified problems in the military and said that constructive criticism should be heeded.

‘I ask the Ministry of Defence to be attentive to all civilian initiatives, including taking into account criticism and responding correctly, in a timely manner,’ he said.

The Zircon will be deployed on Russian frigates (like the Admiral Gorshkov- pictured) and, later, on submarines

The Zircon will be deployed on Russian frigates (like the Admiral Gorshkov- pictured) and, later, on submarines

‘It is clear that the reaction of people who see problems – and there are always problems in such major, complex work – can be emotional, but we need to hear those who do not hush up the existing problems, but strive to contribute to their solution.’

It was the latest in a series of recent comments in which Putin has acknowledged, albeit obliquely, the challenges his army is facing.

On Tuesday, he told security officers that the situation in four regions of Ukraine that Russia has claimed as its own territory – something Kyiv rejects – was ‘highly complicated’.

And on December 7, he said Russia could be fighting in Ukraine for a long time.

Nearly 10 months on from its February 24 invasion, Russia occupies a huge swathe of eastern and southern Ukraine along a front stretching some 685 miles but has suffered a series of defeats that have swung the war’s momentum in favour of its smaller adversary.

It was the latest in a series of recent comments in which Putin has acknowledged, albeit obliquely, the challenges his army is facing (pictured today with Shoigu)

It was the latest in a series of recent comments in which Putin has acknowledged, albeit obliquely, the challenges his army is facing (pictured today with Shoigu)

A handout still image taken from handout video made available by the Russian Defence ministry press-service shows launch of the Russian new intercontinental ballistic missile 'Sarmat' on Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk region, (800 km north of Moscow), Russia, 20 April 2022

A handout still image taken from handout video made available by the Russian Defence ministry press-service shows launch of the Russian new intercontinental ballistic missile ‘Sarmat’ on Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk region, (800 km north of Moscow), Russia, 20 April 2022

Russia has claimed its most potent nuclear missile, the 16,000mph hypersonic 'Satan-2', can destroy the UK

Russia has claimed its most potent nuclear missile, the 16,000mph hypersonic ‘Satan-2’, can destroy the UK

Even pro-Kremlin war bloggers have expressed anger and dismay at the performance of Russia’s generals, the chaotic conduct of the mobilisation and the ceding of territory Russia had captured – most notably last month when it pulled out of Kherson, the only provincial capital Russia had seized since beginning the invasion.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu read out a report to Putin in which he said Russia’s forces were actively destroying Ukraine’s military potential and accused the West of trying to ‘drag out’ the conflict.

Shoigu proposed raising the age for mandatory Russian military service to a new range of 21-30, compared to 18-27 at the moment. He said Russia was accelerating the deployment of modern weapons.

Russia last publicly disclosed its losses on September 21, saying 5,937 soldiers had been killed. That number is far below most international estimates. 

Volodymyr Zelenskiy greets a Ukrainian service member at position in the frontline town of Bakhmut yesterday

Volodymyr Zelenskiy greets a Ukrainian service member at position in the frontline town of Bakhmut yesterday

The United States’ top general estimated on November 9 that more than 100,000 soldiers had been killed or wounded on each side.

Putin has said he has no regrets about launching what he calls his ‘special military operation’, arguing Russia had no choice but to stand up to arrogant Western powers.

On Wednesday he said he still considered Ukrainians – who have been killed in their tens of thousands, forced to flee in their millions, and seen whole towns and cities destroyed – to be a ‘brotherly’ people.

‘What is happening is of course a tragedy, our common tragedy, but it is not a result of our policy,’ Putin said.

‘On the contrary it’s the result of the policy of other countries, third countries, who have always striven for this, the disintegration of the Russian world.’

Today’s trip will be Zelensky’s first known foreign trip since Russia’s February 24 invasion triggered a war that has killed thousands and laid waste to towns and cities across Ukraine. 

Zelensky is expected to leave Washington with pledges for a massive £1.5billion military aid package that would help his country defend itself from Russian aggression.

A worker installs Ukrainian and US flags near the U.S. Capitol ahead of the visit by Zelensky

A worker installs Ukrainian and U.S. flags near the U.S. Capitol ahead of a visit by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky

The latest military hardware from the US would include for the first time a Patriot missile battery and precision guided bombs for fighter jets, US officials said on Tuesday.

Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Kyiv-based Penta Centre independent think tank, said Mr Zelensky’s visit could help map out future strategy.

‘This is indeed a very significant and symbolic visit, which should determine the course of the war. 

Zelensky for the first time dared to leave Ukraine and is counting on being able to maintain, and possibly even strengthen, US military and economic assistance to Ukraine,’ Mr Fesenko told the Associated Press.

In Moscow, Peskov also confirmed media reports that Putin will not deliver his annual state-of-the-nation address this year. 

He would not comment on the reason for postponing the address until next year, saying only it has to do with Mr Putin’s ‘work schedule’.

Some Russian media have linked the decision to a war in which Russia long lost its momentum. Earlier this year, the Kremlin also cancelled Putin’s yearly press conference, which has taken place every December since 2012.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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