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Did Putin Just Admit the Russian Military Is Old?

Russian Stealth Fighters
Su-57 in 2011

Russia loves to talk about its stealth fighters and new tanks and maybe even someday a new stealth bomber. Thankfully, all of that is talk and not reality. The Russian military is in trouble.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia’s weapons should be modernized, in a rare hint that the Kremlin is acknowledging its military hardware is outdated.

“For example, for every item of gear or equipment, we must listen to those who use them and understand how these items perform and whether they are fit for their intended purpose,” Putin told his coordination council, according to the Kremlin’s official site.

“The same applies to weapons, which need constant and uninterrupted upgrades and improvements to remain effective,” Putin added. “For this, as I said, it is essential that we promote competition among manufacturers and developers.”

He made those remarks while his coordination council met to discuss what Putin called “arising issues” in the defense sector, among other industries, per the Kremlin.

Putin’s admission is a remarkable reversal from his comments in August, when he bragged to foreign allies at a military forum that Russia’s weapons are “cutting edge” and “decades ahead” of their foreign counterparts.

Over the last few weeks, Putin has signaled an urgency for Russia to streamline and update its army’s administration procedures and weapons production.

On Friday, he told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that the military’s registration and enlistment offices have to be modernized, noting “certain problems, difficulties” in Russia’s mobilization of 300,000 reservists, per Russian news outlet Moscow 24.

In September, Putin also urged Russian defense companies to modernize and increase their production capacities, advising them to study how their equipment fares against Western weapons, per state-affiliated TV channel NTV.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now approaching its ninth month, has revealed systemic flaws in its army’s logisticswar doctrine, and military technology.

Moscow’s inability to gain and hold significant ground in Ukraine, coupled with the destruction of much of its equipment in battle, has forced it to deploy Soviet-era tanks and weapons systems, according to Western intelligence.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon also said that North Korea has been secretly supplying Russia with artillery shells to be used in Ukraine.

Matthew Loh is a junior breaking news reporter in Insider’s Singapore bureau (this first appeared in Insider). He joined the team in 2021, and covers a wide range of topics from global politics and climate issues to disputes over durians and who’s the longest-living man in India. His past work has focused on modern society in China and the rest of Asia. Matthew previously wrote for local online news publication TODAY as an intern reporter.

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Matthew is a junior breaking news reporter in Insider's Singapore bureau.