Russia aims to create three new military divisions comprised of approximately 30,000 personnel in an effort to counter NATO’s plans to bolster its eastern flank.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced the military’s plan Wednesday, approximately one week after U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter confirmed that four battalions, approximately 4,000 personnel, will be deployed to NATO’s eastern flank on a rotational basis.
“The Defense Ministry is taking a series of measures to counter the expansion of NATO forces in direct proximity to the Russian border,” said Shoigu during a televised ministry meeting.
The proposed NATO deployment will comprise of two U.S. battalions, with Germany and the U.K. also providing one each. Officials said the extra manpower is the result of increasingly dangerous provocations emanating from Russia, which most recently included a Russian fighter engaging in what has been referred to as a “simulated attack” on a U.S. naval vessel.
Fielding an extra three divisions would represent a substantial increase to Russia’s 766,055 currently active personnel. The average division can be comprised of anywhere between 10,000 to 20,000 personnel. Russia’s current basic military training takes the better part of a year, yet the military has experimented with a three-month condensed version for conscripts, which is closer to the world standard.
[dcquiz] Aside from the significant amount of time three divisions would take to recruit and train, there are also concerns over the expense of maintaining such a vast force. The combination of international sanctions due to Russian adventurism in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, in conjunction with low oil prices, has decimated the economy. While Russia’s defense spending increased by about 7.5 percent in 2015, the country has cut spending overall in the last several years. It is unclear whether Russia will simply activate reserve units, borrow from other active units or create them from the bottom up, much less how they will be funded.
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