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Russia’s Military ‘Almost Completely Reconstituted’ As Ukraine Scrambles For Weapons, Conscripts, Officials Say

Russia’s military has nearly returned to the strength it was at the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a top U.S. official said Wednesday, as Ukrainian officials worry no country has the resources needed to build Kyiv’s forces.

Ukraine is still banking on an infusion of U.S. military aid, although House Republicans have stalled passage of the Biden administration’s national security supplemental request over concerns about overall spending and efforts to tie the aid to border security measures, Defense News reported. Administration officials continue to insist that Ukraine can repel the Russian army with new transfers of weapons and equipment, but some Ukrainian officials behind the scenes wonder whether it will ever be enough, Politico reported.

“We have assessed over the course of the last couple of months that Russia has almost completely reconstituted militarily,” Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said at a Center for a New American Security event on Wednesday, according to Defense News.

Russian defense spending has ballooned to 6% of GDP since 2022, inflated its weapons industrial base and is supplementing forces with equipment brought in from sympathetic partners, according to Defense News.

A senior administration official added earlier in the week, “We’ve really seen the [People’s Republic of China] start to help to rebuild Russia’s defense industrial base, essentially back-filling the trade from European partners” that was cut off after Russia invaded in February 2022, according to Defense News.

U.S. intelligence agencies estimated in December that Russia had suffered 315,000 dead and wounded in the course of its war against Ukraine. After capturing large swaths of the Donetsk and Luhansk territories, further gains have come at an immense cost in lives and equipment to both sides.

Ukrainian military commanders have been rationing ammunition to extend supplies while the U.S. and NATO partners scramble to boost production, Defense News reported. Without an influx of munitions and air defense, Ukrainian officials say the front lines may collapse, according to Politico

A heavier volume of guided aerial bombs may be able “penetrate the front line and to crash it in some parts,” the officials told Politico, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the situation frankly.

“There’s nothing that can help Ukraine now because there are no serious technologies able to compensate Ukraine for the large mass of troops Russia is likely to hurl at us. We don’t have those technologies, and the West doesn’t have them as well in sufficient numbers,” one of the top-ranking military officials told the outlet.

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. C. Q. Brown recently disputed that notion, but said the weapons famine would add to Ukraine’s difficulties.

“Does it make it more complicated, more challenging for the Ukrainians without the supplemental — yes,” Brown said at a Defense Writers Group in late March, according to Defense News. “But they’ve been able to defend fairly well.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday approved parliamentary laws lowering the draft age from 27 to 25 in hopes of replenishing losses, The Associated Press reported. The new rules could bring in 50,000 new recruits.

Meanwhile, Russia is making preparations to mobilize up to 300,000 new troops, Zelenskyy said, according to the AP.

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Micaela Burrow

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Micaela Burrow

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