The decree, posted on the Russian government’s website, raised the target number of active-duty service members by about 137,000, or 10 percent, to a total of 1.15 million as of January next year. It also ordered that the Russian government ensure funds are provided for the increase from the federal budget.
“This is not a move that you make when you are anticipating a rapid end to your war,” Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, told the Times.
“This is something you do when you are making some kind of plan for a protracted conflict,” she continued.
Putin’s order comes as the Pentagon has estimated that as many as 80,000 Russian troops have been killed and injured in Ukraine since the invasion began in late February. Last month, CIA director Bill Burns said that U.S. intelligence estimated that roughly 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine “and maybe three times that wounded.”
Russia has not released any estimates on how many of its soldiers have been killed or injured in Ukraine. Kyiv, which earlier this week disclosed that nearly 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the fighting, has stated that the Russian toll is likely more than 45,000.
“Putin has been reluctant to do this because he has tried to isolate the Russian population from the costs of the war through using mercenaries from the Wagner private security organization, recruiting in the non-Russian ethnic republics of the country, from the prison population and using press gangs in occupied parts of Ukraine,” Neil Melvin, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank, explained to NBC News.
“But now the Russian army is exhausted, and the ad hoc recruitment techniques are not providing enough fresh troops. So, the Russian authorities have announced an increase in the size of the army to fill the gaps from war losses,” he added. “This is a dangerous moment for the Russian president as the announcement is an admission that the ‘special military operation’ has gone seriously off plan, and now the wider Russian population will have to start paying the price with the lives of their sons.”
Michael Clarke, professor of war studies at King’s College London, noted that the decree “is an obvious indication that Russia now knows it is in for a long campaign.”
“Nothing in this decree will make a difference until next spring,” he continued, per NBC News. “That is when we can expect a second major Russian offensive, after they have effectively dug themselves in for the winter and geared up for it in the spring—hoping to be more efficient than when they began this operation.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.