Putin vows to boost Russian special forces’ ability to strike

By Thomson Reuters Feb 26, 2024 | 5:27 PM

(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin promised late on Monday to increase the mobility and striking potential of Russia’s special operations forces, saying this is a key priority to make the country’s army stronger.

“We will continue to strengthen the Special Operations Forces, increase their mobility and striking potential, and arm them with new-generation weapons and equipment,” Putin said in a congratulatory video message issued ahead of the Feb. 27 Special Operations Forces Day in Russia.

“Let me emphasize that this is one of the key priorities for the long-term development of the army and navy.”

Russia’s Special Operations Forces are strategic-level, constant combat prepared forces designed to perform specific tasks and are part of the Russian Armed Forces.

The special forces have been involved in Russia’s covert actions in Syria in the past decade and since 2022 in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which Putin calls a “special military operation.” Kyiv and its allies view it as an unprovoked imperialistic land grab.

“Special words of gratitude to the soldiers who have participated in the special military operation,” Putin said in the video posted on the Kremlin’s Telegram messaging app.

“In the most dangerous areas – on the front line, deep behind enemy lines, in raids and rapid attacks you carry out your assigned tasks with honour, act boldly, competently, and decisively.”

Russia has been celebrating the Special Operations Forces Day on Feb. 27 since 2015, when Putin declared the day a holiday on the first anniversary of Russian forces seizing government buildings in Ukraine’s Crimea, followed by Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula, according to Russia’s RBC news outlet.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Ron Popeski in Winnipeg; Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Matthew Lewis)