Putin signs a decree to increase the size of the Russian armed forces | Russo-Ukrainian War

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The President orders the Russian military to increase its troop numbers from 137,000 to a total of 1.15 million.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to increase its troop numbers from 137,000 to a total of 1.15 million as part of Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

Putin’s decree, which takes effect Jan. 1, did not specify whether the military will bolster its ranks by recruiting more conscripts, increasing the number of volunteer soldiers, or using a combination of the two.

The decree issued on Thursday will bring the total number of Russian military personnel to 2,039,758, including 1,150,628 military personnel. A previous order put military strength at 1,902,758 and 1,013,628 respectively at the start of 2018.

The Kremlin has said that only volunteer soldiers under contract are taking part in what it calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russian troops guard an entrance to the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station, a run-of-river power station on the Dnieper River in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine [File: AP Photo]

Russian media and non-governmental organizations say Russian authorities have sought to increase the number of troops involved in military action in Ukraine by attracting more volunteers, hiring private military contractors and even offering amnesty. to certain prisoners in exchange for a period of military service.

Regional authorities have also attempted to bolster ranks, forming volunteer battalions to deploy to Ukraine.

All Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 must serve one year in the army, but many avoid conscription for health reasons or deferments granted to university students. The share of men who avoid the repechage is particularly large in Moscow and other major cities.

The Russian army gathers conscripts twice a year, starting on April 1 and October 1. Putin ordered the recruitment of 134,500 conscripts in the last spring recruitment earlier this year and 127,500 last fall.

In recent years, the Kremlin has focused on increasing the share of volunteer contract soldiers as it seeks to modernize the army and improve its readiness. Before the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, the Russian military had more than 400,000 contract soldiers, including around 147,000 in the ground forces.

The number of conscripts was estimated at around 270,000, and officers and non-commissioned officers accounted for the rest.

Pressure in Ukraine

Military observers have noted that if the campaign in Ukraine drags on, those numbers could clearly be insufficient to sustain operations in Ukraine, which has declared a goal of forming a million-strong army.

Russia has not specified how many casualties it has suffered in Ukraine since the first weeks of the invasion, when it said 1,351 of its soldiers had been killed.

Western estimates indicate the actual number could be at least 10 times higher, while Ukraine claims to have killed or injured at least 45,000 Russian troops since the conflict began.

Retired Colonel Viktor Murakhovsky noted that Putin’s decree on Thursday reflected pressure to fill ranks amid military action in Ukraine.

In comments carried by online news outlet RBC, he accused the Kremlin of trying to continue to rely on volunteers and predicted they would make up the bulk of the Kremlin-ordered increase.


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