Russia does not appear ready to ease hostilities. This Friday, Vladimir Putin gave the order to increase the number of soldiers in the Russian army by 15%, via a decree. This increase in army numbers is motivated by an “increase in threats” linked to the war in Ukraine. The army must have 2.2 million members, including 1.32 million soldiers, according to this decree published by the government. The previous decree, dating from August 2022, set the number of planned members at 2 million, including 1.15 million military personnel.
The Russian Ministry of Defense, as soon as this decree was announced, published a press release explaining this increase. “The increase in the number of armed forces is due to an increase in threats targeting our country and linked to the conduct of the special military operation (in Ukraine) and the continued enlargement of NATO,” he said. “A strengthening of the Alliance’s combined armed forces near Russia’s borders and the deployment of additional air defense ets and strike weapons are underway,” he ured.
“Winter as a whole is a new phase of the war”
The ministry, however, explained that this increase in its personnel will be done “in stages”, on the basis of voluntary commitments, and that no “(military) mobilization is planned”. In September 2022, facing serious difficulties on the front, Russia had ordered a military mobilization, pushing hundreds of thousands of young men to flee the country to avoid forced recruitment and sparking discontent. Since then, the front has stabilized and the Russian authorities favor recruitment on a voluntary basis, promising high salaries and social benefits to those who decide to enlist.
The decree signed by the Russian president therefore amounts to increasing the number of Russian forces by nearly 170,000 soldiers. During an interview given to theociated Press, Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that “winter as a whole is a new phase of the war.” The president of Ukraine also anticipates the resumption of an intense Russian air campaign. He also acknowledged that the Ukrainian counter-offensive had not produced the desired results. According to the leader, the Ukrainian army does not receive enough weapons from its allies, which explains this failure and reduces the capabilities of the ground forces.