Russia ramps up weapons production for Ukraine war

Defence minister says Russia needs to boost volume, speed of production as US sends military aid to Ukraine.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered an increase in weapons production for the war in Ukraine, his ministry said, days after the United States approved a delayed multibillion-dollar military aid package for the Ukrainian government.

At a meeting on Wednesday with Russia’s top military brass, Shoigu said the volume, quality and speed of arms production needed boosting, and also ordered the repair of units on the front lines in Ukraine’s east and south to improve their efficiency, the Ministry of Defence said on the Telegram messaging app.

“To maintain the required pace of the offensive … it is necessary to increase the volume and quality of weapons and military equipment supplied to the troops, primarily weapons,” Shoigu said.

While Russian troops are advancing at key points along the 1,000km (620-mile) front line, some Russian officials have expressed concerns that the US support will escalate the conflict.

Ukraine’s troops are running out of ammunition. Outnumbered, they have been forced to make tactical retreats from at least three villages in the country’s east.

Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskii, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, warned on Sunday that the country is at risk of losing more ground if its Western allies do not deliver weapons quickly.

Russia has taken about half a dozen villages in the Donetsk region while firming up battlefield positions in the Kharkiv region.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the military alliance’s members failed to deliver what they promised to Ukraine in time.

“Serious delays in support have meant serious consequences on the battlefield,” Stoltenberg told a news conference in Kyiv on Monday with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

On April 24, US President Joe Biden signed off on more than $61bn in military aid for Ukraine, including an array of artillery, rocket systems, antitank munitions and ammunition.

Zelenskyy said that vital US weapons were starting to arrive in Ukraine in small amounts, but that deliveries needed to be faster in the face of advancing Russian forces.

The Russian military attacked the command headquarters of the Ukrainian army’s southern grouping, which is based in the port of Odesa, the defence ministry said on Wednesday, but did not provide details.

While Ukrainian prosecutors said residential buildings and civilian infrastructure were damaged in Odesa in an overnight strike, the southern military command said administrative and residential buildings, and medical and educational institutions were hit.

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