Putin Orders Increase in Russian Troops as Ukraine Conflict Persists

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a significant increase in the number of troops, bringing the total to 1.32 million, as the conflict in Ukraine enters its 22nd month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree ordering the country’s military to expand its troops by nearly 170,000, reaching a total of 1.32 million personnel. This move comes as Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine continues for the 22nd month. The decision, which took immediate effect, increases the overall number of Russian military personnel to approximately 2.2 million, with 1.32 million serving as troops. This marks the second expansion of the army since 2018, when Putin ordered an additional 137,000 troops. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the increase would occur gradually through the recruitment of volunteers, emphasizing the ongoing “special military operation” in Ukraine and the expansion of NATO as reasons for bolstering the army.

NATO Expansion and Russian Response

The Russian Defense Ministry has cited the expansion of NATO and the deployment of additional air defense systems and strike weapons near Russia’s borders as reasons for the troop increase. The ministry claims that NATO’s tactical nuclear forces have also seen a rise in potential. Consequently, boosting Russian troops is seen as an appropriate response to what they perceive as “the aggressive activities of the NATO bloc.” The Kremlin had previously considered the size of its military sufficient, but the prolonged conflict in Ukraine and the unexpected resilience of Ukrainian forces prompted a reassessment of military requirements.

Secrecy Surrounding Military Casualties

Both Russia and Ukraine have maintained a veil of secrecy regarding military casualties. While the Russian military has officially confirmed just over 6,000 military casualties, Western estimates are significantly higher. In October, the U.K. Defense Ministry’s regular update on Twitter suggested that Russia had “likely suffered 150,000-190,000 permanent casualties,” including troops killed and permanently wounded. The lack of transparency surrounding casualties underscores the gravity of the conflict and the toll it has taken on both sides.

Efforts to Strengthen the Russian Army

In addition to the troop increase, the Russian authorities have undertaken various efforts to bolster the army. In August 2022, Putin ordered the military’s size to be increased to 1.15 million, effective from January 1, 2023. The following month, he mobilized 300,000 reservists to reinforce Russian forces in Ukraine. This mobilization decree remains open-ended, allowing for the calling up of additional reservists when needed. Regional authorities have also formed volunteer battalions to support the effort in Ukraine, while recruitment campaigns offering cash bonuses and amnesty for prisoners in exchange for military service have been implemented. These measures supplement the regular draft, which calls up around 120,000-140,000 men twice a year for compulsory service.

Draft Evasion and Extended Age Limit

Despite mandatory conscription for all Russian men aged 18 to 27, a significant number manage to avoid the draft due to health reasons or deferments granted to university students. This trend is particularly prevalent in major cities such as Moscow. To address this, the Russian authorities have raised the upper age limit for mandatory service to 30, effective from January 1. The military rounds up draftees twice a year, with Putin ordering the drafting of 130,000 conscripts in the fall and 147,000 in the spring.


As the conflict in Ukraine continues, President Putin’s decision to increase the number of Russian troops reflects the evolving dynamics on the ground. The expansion of NATO and the ongoing military operation in Ukraine have prompted Russia to bolster its military capabilities. The secrecy surrounding casualties highlights the gravity of the conflict, while the various efforts to strengthen the army demonstrate the determination to ensure Russia’s security. The troop increase serves as a reminder of the continued tensions between Russia and the West, with implications for regional stability and global geopolitics.






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