MOSCOW: As Russia continues to invade Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country's military to increase the maximum number of troops by nearly 1,70,000 people, as reported by Al Jazeera. Putin's decree was released by the Kremlin on Friday and came into force immediately.
As Moscow increases the number of troops, it brings the strength of the armed forces to 1.32 million service personnel and increases the overall number of Russian military personnel to about 2.2 million.
The Russian Ministry of Defence issued a statement, saying, "The increase in the full-time strength of the armed forces is due to the growing threats to our country associated with the special military operation and the ongoing expansion of NATO."
However, it also stated that the order does not imply any "significant expansion of conscription", and that the increase would happen gradually by recruiting more volunteers, Al Jazeera reported.
Former Russian President and current deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, said that over 452,000 people were recruited to the military under contract from January 1 to December 1, 2023.
NATO's "joint armed forces are being built up near Russia's borders and additional air defence systems and strike weapons are being deployed. The potential of NATO's tactical nuclear forces is being increased," the statement added. According to the statement, boosting Russian troops was an appropriate response to "the aggressive activities of the NATO bloc."
Moreover, this is the second time Russia has expanded its army since 2018. Previously in 2022, Putin ordered to boost 137,000 troops, which put the military's numbers at about two million personnel and about 1.15 million troops, reported Al Jazeera. (ANI)
However, last December, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu declared that the country needed a force of 1.5 million "to guarantee the fulfilment of tasks to ensure Russia's security".
Earlier, the Kremlin considered the size of its military as sufficient, but the calculus changed after hopes for a quick victory over Ukraine.
According to Al Jazeera, Russia has undertaken various efforts to give a boost to its army, including drafting conscripts, mobilising reservists, forming volunteer battalions and running campaigns to attract more men to enlist.
Some media reports and rights groups say the Russian authorities have also offered amnesty to some prisoners in exchange for a tour of military duty.
Furthermore, all Russian men from age 18 to 27 (or age 18-30 starting on January 1, 2024) must serve one year in the military. However, a lot of these men avoid the draft for health reasons or deferments granted to university students, according to Al Jazeera. (ANI)