| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Ukraine aims to amass ‘million-strong army’ to fight Russia, says defense minister

Ukraine has stated that it intends to build a “million-strong army” armed with NATO weaponry to combat Russian soldiers.

However, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov’s remarks are being interpreted as more of a rallying cry than a solid strategy for a counter-offensive.

They come as Russia consolidates its position in the eastern Donbas region and continues to pound locations throughout Ukraine.

Mr Reznikov also stated that regaining control of the country’s southern Black Sea coast was critical to the country’s economy.

In his interview with The Times newspaper, the minister said weapons deliveries needed to be sped up.

He praised the UK for being “key” in the transition from providing Ukraine with Soviet-era weapons to the more effective Nato-standard air defense systems and ammunition.

“We need more, quickly, to save the lives of our soldiers. Each day we’re waiting for howitzers, we can lose a hundred soldiers,” he said.

The defense minister added: “We have approximately 700,000 in the armed forces and when you add the national guard, police, border guard, we are around a million-strong.”

However, analysts have cautioned against taking the figure of one million at face value.

“It’s not a million-strong force that will be conducting a counter-attack,” Dr Jack Watling, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told the BBC.

“Normally you would want operational surprise when you launch a counter-attack, so announcing it publicly is partly about forcing the Russians to have to commit resources more widely to guard against this threat.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s offensive continues relentlessly, especially in the Donetsk region.

In one bloody incident on Sunday, an attack on a block of flats reportedly killed at least 26 people – with nine people rescued from under rubble.

Rescuers are still looking for survivors at the site of the five-storey building in Chasiv Yar, near the city of Kramatorsk.

On Monday, three people were killed and 31 wounded after residential areas in the eastern city of Kharkiv were struck by Russian shells, the regional governor said.