By Lydia Kelly
(Reuters) – Russia’s new military reforms respond to a possible NATO expansion and the “collective West’s” use of Kyiv to wage hybrid warfare against Russia, the new general in charge of military operations has said. Russian military operations in Ukraine.
Valery Gerasimov, in his first public comments since his January 11 appointment to the post, also admitted problems with troop mobilization, after public criticism forced President Vladimir Putin to rebuke the military.
The military reforms, announced in mid-January, have been approved by Putin and can be adjusted to address Russia’s security threats, Gerasimov told the Argumenty i Fakty news site in remarks published late Monday.
“Today, these threats include the aspirations of the North Atlantic Alliance to expand into Finland and Sweden, as well as the use of Ukraine as a tool to wage hybrid warfare against our country. “said Gerasimov, who is also the head of the Russian Alliance. military staff.
Last year, Finland and Sweden applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Under Moscow’s new military plan, an army corps will be added in Karelia in northern Russia, which borders Finland.
The reforms also provide for two additional military districts, Moscow and Leningrad, which existed before their merger in 2010, to become part of the Western Military District.
In Ukraine, Russia will add three motorized rifle divisions as part of combined arms formations in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, which Moscow claims it annexed in September.
“The main goal of this work is to ensure the guaranteed protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country,” Gerasimov said.
‘ACT AGAINST ALL THE COLLECTIVE WEST’
Gerasimov added that modern Russia has never experienced such “intensity of military hostilities”, forcing it to carry out offensive operations to stabilize the situation.
“Our country and its armed forces are today acting against the entire collective West,” Gerasimov said.
In the 11 months since invading Ukraine, Russia has shifted its rhetoric on war from an operation to “denazify” and “demilitarize” its neighbor to increasingly portraying it as a defense against an aggressive West.
Kyiv and its Western allies call it an unprovoked act of aggression, and the West is increasingly sending heavy weapons to Ukraine to help it resist Russian forces.
Gerasimov and the Defense Ministry leadership were heavily criticized for multiple battlefield setbacks and Moscow’s failure to achieve victory in a campaign the Kremlin expected would take only a short time.
The country’s mobilization of some 300,000 additional people in the fall was chaotic.
“The mobilization training system in our country was not fully adapted to the new modern economic relations,” Gerasimov said. “So I had to fix everything on the run.”
(Writing by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Himani Sarkar)