Putin wants to increase the army significantly. But this plan will have little impact on the war in Ukraine, experts believe. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy was flown to President Biden in a US government plane. Selenskyj fears that Russia could soon also attack US allies. what happened in the night

Experts dissect Putin’s dream of a mega-army

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Wednesday that Russia wants to increase its army to 1.5 million soldiers. 695,000 of these should be contract soldiers. So far there are 380,000 of them in Russia. The age limit for conscripts is to be raised from 27 to 30.

But the experts at the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) see no influence of these plans on the Ukraine war. “The Kremlin will most likely not be able to do this in a short time,” said the “ISW” researchers. Building up divisions is “expensive” and takes a lot of time.

In 2016/17, for example, it took Russia more than a year to set up the 150th Motorized Rifle Division. They were unable to fully replenish their existing brigades and regiments before invading Ukraine. And in 2020, the creation of a new division was announced – which was not completed until the start of the invasion in February 2022. The experts write: “Russia’s economy is in recession. The army’s training opportunities have dropped significantly since February 24, 2022 because the trainers fight and die in the war.”

Rather, Shoigu made his announcement for two reasons: To reassure the powerful military bloggers, who constantly criticize that the Kremlin is not waging this war hard enough. And to create a pretext for further waves of mobilization for Putin’s Ukraine war.

In the long term, however, Putin could very well strengthen the military, according to the “ISW” experts. According to the analysis, if Putin provides more funds for the army, it could again pose a serious threat to NATO in the future. Putin has already made it clear that he is not prepared to deviate from his goals – even at the expense of his own people.

Zelenskyy was flown to the United States from Poland on a US government plane

It was unclear how Ukrainian President Zelenskyy traveled to the United States. It is Zelenskyy’s first trip abroad since Russia attacked his country 302 days ago. However, the latest information from the Reuters news agency reveals the secret: President Zelenskyj was flown to the USA from Poland in a US government plane. According to CNN, US security personnel were on board.

Course of his trip: Late on Tuesday evening, Selenskyj drove to Poland with his companions and finally arrived in the southern Polish city of Peremyschl. According to the private broadcaster TVN, he was spotted there with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, at the train station. He then boarded a US government plane in Poland and landed on Wednesday afternoon at the US military airfield at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, around 20 kilometers south-east of Washington. From there, Selenskyj finally managed to drive to US President Biden’s official residence.

Selenskyj thanks the USA – and fears Russian attacks on allies

With an impressive speech before the US Congress, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for its support against the Russian war of aggression, to the cheers of the members of parliament. “Despite all odds and doomsday scenarios, Ukraine has not fallen. Ukraine is alive and well,” said Zelenskyy on Wednesday evening (local time) in front of the two chambers of parliament in the US capital Washington on his first official trip abroad in wartime. The Ukrainian stressed the historical importance of the defensive struggle for democracy. However, he made it clear that more heavy weapons would be needed for his country to win.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russia could attack US allies. “It’s only a matter of time before they attack your other allies if we don’t stop them now,” Zelenskyy said in a speech on Wednesday evening (local time) before the two chambers of the US Congress addressed to MPs. The world is too interconnected for anyone to feel safe if the Russian attack continues. Zelenskyy stressed that the coming year will be a “turning point” in the war. “I know it is the point when Ukrainian courage and American determination must guarantee the future of our common freedom,” he said.

Russian lower house passes tougher penalties for ‘saboteurs’

In the midst of the Ukraine conflict, the Russian lower house has passed tougher penalties for “saboteurs”. A corresponding law had been passed by the deputies, the Duma announced on Wednesday in Moscow. The law provides for up to life imprisonment for domestic and foreign “saboteurs”.

The new law should “protect our country and our citizens from threats of terrorism and sabotage,” the Duma said. Its chairman Vyacheslav Volodin also referred to the ongoing “military special operation” in Ukraine. The penalties for “saboteurs” should be “as severe as possible,” he demanded. The new law now has to be passed by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin.

At least two dead in Ukrainian artillery attack on Donetsk

Meanwhile, fighting continued in Ukraine. At least two people were killed in an artillery attack by Ukrainian forces on the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday evening, according to sources in the region. “The number of injured is still being determined,” the Tass agency quoted a representative of the administration deployed by Russia as saying. Several parts of the city were shelled by Ukrainian rocket artillery, causing considerable damage. The information could not initially be independently verified. The center of Donetsk is just ten kilometers behind the front line.

Strack-Zimmermann demands armored personnel carriers and main battle tanks for Ukraine

After Selenskyj’s visit to the USA, the FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann again called for the delivery of western armored personnel carriers and battle tanks to Ukraine. “Strategically, we must finally get ahead of the curve and not only react when the situation worsens,” said the chairwoman of the Bundestag Defense Committee to the news portal “t-online”. “Germany must finally deliver the Marder infantry fighting vehicle and ideally together with its European partners the Leopard 2.” Ukraine has long been asking its allies for western-style battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. According to Ukrainian information, talks are underway with the federal government.

What will be important on Thursday

Zelenskyj is expected to arrive back in Ukraine this Thursday – he only spent around half a day in Washington. In addition, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, is expected to take part in negotiations on the occupied Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Zaporizhia in Moscow. The Russian side said it was about Grossi’s initiative for a security zone around the plant

Also read: Ukraine update in the morning – Russia’s oil exports suddenly plummet

An explosion is said to have occurred on the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhhorod gas pipeline west of the Russian city of Kazan. The pipeline carries gas from Russia to Europe via Ukraine. This is reported by the Reuters news agency. The cause is currently still unclear. Three people are said to have died in the explosion.

The Ukrainian President Selenskyj was just visiting the front in Bakhmut, a few hours later he was already on his way to Washington. From there he wants to take the Patriot air defense system with him. Meanwhile, Russian dictator Putin is threatening to use the new Zirkon hypersonic missile and the Sarmat intercontinental missile.