NO END IN SIGHT: Putin Calls For 137,000 Fresh Troops

(Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed an increase of 137,000 combat personnel to Russia’s military on Thursday as the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine drags on into the winter.

The authorization takes effect on Jan. 1 and will bring the total number of active duty Russian troops to 1.1.5 million, or two million including reserve troops, NBC News reported. Putin’s decision could reflect intentions to continue prosecuting the war in Ukraine despite reports of worsening troop morale, high casualty rates and inability to make significant advances on the front lines, according to multiple assessments from the Institute for the Study of War.

“But now the Russian army is exhausted, and the ad hoc recruitment techniques are not providing enough fresh troops,” Neil Melvin, director of international security studies at the UK-based Royal United Services Institute, told NBC News. “So, the Russian authorities have announced an increase in the size of the army to fill the gaps from war losses.”

The decree did not specify how the military should achieve the boost in combat personnel but did authorize the government to set aside the required budgetary funds, NBC News reported.

Putin has not given up his objective of capturing all of Ukraine, the Pentagon assessed in a briefing Wednesday. (RELATED: Putin’s Spies Convinced Ukrainian Officials Russia Wouldn’t Invade, Docs Reveal)

Previous Russian efforts to boost enlistment since the war’s beginning have included mandatory volunteer quotas in administrative regions, contracting mercenaries and possibly deploying conscripts, although Russia has denied doing so, according to Politico.

While the Kremlin has concealed the number of Russian casualties, the latest Pentagon estimates place the total as high as 80,000. The last time the Russian army posted casualty numbers was in March, reporting 1,351 dead or wounded, according to Axios.

Roughly 150,000 Russian troops accumulated on Ukraine’s border before Putin ordered the invasion on Feb. 24, ISW reported. Since, Russia dropped its multi-axis campaign and has refocused efforts in the eastern portion, where Russia controls roughly 20% of Ukrainian territory, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

On Wednesday, the six month point in the war, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia deliberately slowed the campaign to minimize civilian casualties as the war coalesces into a grinding stalemate in the eastern Donbas region, Reuters reported.

In 2017, Putin fixed the military’s force strength at 1.9 million, one million of which were combat personnel. In March, Putin added a further 134,000 conscripts to the annual spring draft, claiming that the troops would experience training but not participate in conflict at “hot spots,” Reuters reported.

The Russian government did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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