Russia to add 137,000 soldiers to their armed forces

Russian army in Ukraine

Putin authorized Russia to add 137,000 soldiers to the armed forces.

In light of Moscow’s military engagement in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed the military to increase its armed forces by 137,000, to a total of 1.15 million personnel.

The terms of Putin’s order, which becomes effective on January 1st, are unclear as to whether the military would increase its personnel through increased conscripts, increased recruitment of volunteers, or a combination of both.

With the directive that was published on Thursday, there will be 1,150,628 more service members in the Russian military, bringing the total to 2,039,758. The military has 1,902,758 and 1,013,628 servicemen, respectively, in the beginning of 2018.

According to the Kremlin, the “special military operation” in Ukraine only involves volunteer contract soldiers.

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Russian media and non-governmental organisations say Russian authorities have sought to bolster the number of troops involved in the military action in Ukraine by attracting more volunteers, engaging private military contractors and even offering amnesty to some prisoners in exchange for a tour of military duty.

Regional authorities have also tried to beef up the ranks, forming volunteer battalions to be deployed to Ukraine.

All Russian men aged 18-27 must serve one year in the military but a large share avoids the draft for health reasons or deferments granted to university students. The share of men who dodge the draft is particularly big in Moscow and other big cities.

Twice a year, starting on April 1 and October 1, the Russian military rounds up prospective recruits. During the most recent spring draft earlier this year and 127,500 last autumn, Putin authorized the drafting of 134,500 conscripts.

In an effort to modernize and enhance the preparedness of the army, the Kremlin has placed a strong focus on increasing the number of voluntary contract soldiers. The Russian military had more than 400,000 contract soldiers, including over 147,000 in the ground forces, when the Kremlin dispatched troops into Ukraine on February 24.

Approximately 270,000 conscripts are thought to have served; the remainder is made up of officers and non-commissioned officers.

Force experts have observed that if the conflict in Ukraine drags on, such numbers may be glaringly insufficient to support operations in Ukraine, which has stated a goal of establishing a one-million-strong military.

Since the first few weeks of the invasion, when it claimed 1,351 of its soldiers had been killed, Russia has not disclosed the number of deaths it has sustained in Ukraine.

While Ukraine claims it has killed or injured at least 45,000 Russian troops since the conflict began, Western assessments place the true toll at least ten times higher.