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Ukraine has a million-strong army poised to retake South, ministry says

As ordered by the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, a million-strong fighting force has been amassed in the country to recapture its southern areas, which have previously been taken by Russian forces, defense minister Alexey Reznikov has told The Times. 

“We understand that, politically, it’s very necessary for our country. The president has given the order to the supreme military chief to draw up plans,” he said in an interview published on Sunday. 

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“We’re people of the free world and with a real sense of justice and liberty. 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,” the minister added.

Reznikov praised the British effort to help Ukraine, especially Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, who, according to him, was key to helping shift the approach from providing Soviet equipment to NATO-standard 155mm artillery, guided multiple launch rocket systems and high-tech drones.

This, Reznikov explained, will make up for heavy losses in the Donbass region in the face of mass Russian artillery shelling. President Zelensky previously said Ukraine was losing some 200 men a day in the area.

Reznikov also mentioned other allies, claiming an “anti-Kremlin coalition was born.” 

“Our partners in London and Washington DC and other capitals, they are invested in us, not only with money but the expectations of their people that we have to make the Kremlin lose. We have to win this war together,” he said.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin’s old alliances have also been shattered, Reznik argued, pointing to Kazakhstan: recently president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev publicly refused to recognize the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics as sovereign nations. 

“I’m sure that in the next few years we will see a procession of calls for sovereignty on Russian territory. The Russian Federation will finish its life as different countries – Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, etc,” Reznikov said. 

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

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