Russian President, Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to increase the number of troops by 137,000 to a total of 1.15 million amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
Putin’s decree, which took effect on Jan. 1, comes exactly 6 months after he first ordered his forces to invade neighboring Ukraine leading to loss of lives and military equipment on both sides.
The decree didn’t specify whether the military will beef up its ranks by drafting a bigger number of conscripts, increasing the number of volunteer soldiers or using a combination of both.
The presidential decree will boost the overall number of Russian military personnel to 2,039,758, including 1,150,628 troops. A previous order in 2018 put the military’s numbers at 1,902,758 and 1,013,628 respectively .
The Kremlin has said that only volunteer contract soldiers take part in what it calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine, rejecting claims that it was thinking of carrying out a mobilization.
Russian media reports 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 military duty.
All Russian men aged 18-27 must serve one year in the military, but a large share avoid the draft for health reasons or deferments granted to university students.
The Russian military rounds up draftees twice a year, starting April 1 and Oct. 1. Putin ordered the drafting of 134,500 conscripts during the latest spring draft earlier this year and 127,500 last fall.
According to Moscow Times, before the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, the Russian military had over 400,000 contract soldiers, including about 147,000 in the ground forces. The number of conscripts has been estimated at around 270,000, and officers and non-commissioned officers have accounted for the rest.
Military analysts say if the campaign in Ukraine drags on, those numbers could be clearly insufficient to sustain the operations in Ukraine.