Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military on Thursday to beef up its ranks by adding 137,000 troops, bringing the Russian military to a total of 1.15 million soldiers amid its war in Ukraine.
The decree comes just weeks after the Pentagon assessed that Russia has seen immense causalities with 70,000 -80,000 Russian soldiers injured or killed over the last six months.
The directive will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023 and will bring Russia’s overall military personnel size to 2,039,758, increasing it from 1,902,758 personnel.
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Putin did not specify whether the military will bolster its ranks by drafting conscripts or by increasing the number of volunteer soldiers it accepts.
All Russian men aged 18-27 are required to serve at least one year in the military, but many are able to dodge the requirement by obtaining a deferment for health reasons or to attend university.
The Kremlin has claimed that only volunteer contract soldiers have been sent to fight in what Putin has dubbed a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Ukrainian news outlets have suggested that Putin could also be looking to other means to bolster his war effort in Ukraine and could potentially look to Belarus for additional manpower – although Belarus has yet to officially enter the war.
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Russian and Ukrainian forces are largely stalled along the frontline with western defense officials assessing that Russia has made minimal advances in recent weeks but that the fight in Ukraine has turned into a war of attrition.
Ukrainian officials have expressed hope that they will have made significant progress in repelling Russia from its border by the winter months and suggested a major counter-offensive was on the horizon.
Details of Ukraine’s defense plans remain undisclosed and some have suggested the war could last years if Ukraine is able to maintain its fighting force.
It remains unclear how many causalities Ukraine has suffered, although officials in Kyiv believe it could gain the edge it needs over Russia if western allies supplied more advanced weaponry.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.