President Vladimir Putin promises more ‘advanced’ weapons for Russian army

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to continue equipping his military with 'advanced' equipment on Thursday in a televised address on Defender of the Fatherland Day, a holiday observed across the country in celebration of the armed forces.

"A modern, efficient army and navy are the gauge of a country's security and sovereignty, a gauge of its stable development, of its future. Therefore, as before, we will pay priority attention to strengthening our defence capabilities" he said.

The president also attended a ceremony in Moscow and laid wreaths at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin before meeting Russian military veterans.

Putin said Russia will "conduct the balanced and high-quality development of all components of the armed forces" in particular by equipping troops with "new strike systems, reconnaissance and communication equipment, drones and artillery systems".

"Now our industry is rapidly increasing the production of an entire range of conventional weapons," he said.

Putin also hailed Russian soldiers, who are fighting "heroically" in Ukraine and "defending our people in our historical lands".

Last autumn he announced the mobilisation of 300,000 reservists to boost Russia's ranks in Ukraine.

During his two decades in power, Putin has made strengthening the armed forces a top priority and has introduced hypersonic weapons, which he described as "invincible", to Russia's arsenal.

According to various Western sources, there have been an estimated 150,000 casualties on both Russian and Ukrainian sides.

As the war hits its one-year anniversary, Kyiv is anxiously waiting for Western partners to deliver tanks and ammunition to replenish depleting stocks.

On Wednesday, Spain's Defence Minister Margarita Robles confirmed Madrid would send six of its German-made Leopard tanks to bolster Ukraine's fight against Russia.

The announcement preceded Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's arrival in Kyiv where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

On his Facebook page, Zelenskyy wrote "we have felt the solidarity of Spain since the first days of the full-scale war. Thank you for all your help and support!"