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Get Ready, NATO: Putin Wants 1.5 Million Soldiers for His Army

T-72 Tank in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Video screenshot of a Russian T-72B3 tank on fire and a second decapitated tank by Ukraine's 93rd Mechanized Brigade.

On day 306 of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military is scrambling to deal with another attack within its borders while Moscow is trying to raise an army of 1.5 million men. 

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According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Ukrainian forces attacked Engels airbase, a hub for Russian strategic bombers located approximately 400 miles east of Ukraine, with a drone, killing three troops. The Ukrainian attack comes a few weeks after a similar strike that damaged two Russian strategic bombers. 

Moscow has used strategic bombers for its devastating missile attacks against Ukrainian urban centers and critical infrastructure. 

The Russian 1.5 million Men Army 

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his plans to expand the Russian military to 1.5 million men, an around 30 percent increase from its current size. 

The Russian leader didn’t present a specific timeline for this expansion. Putin has already called up 300,000 reservists during his partial mobilization in September. The Kremlin would have to increase the country’s industrial capacity as well to meet the needs of a growing military but also to replenish the extensive materiel losses from Ukraine. Moscow is also relying on the mercenaries of Wagner Group.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated that the expansion would require the elevation of at least two brigades to divisions. Shoigu identified the northwestern Russian military district, which faces Finland and Norway, as a possible first command for the expansion, citing the upcoming accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO as the main reason.

“This constitutes one of the first insights into how Russia aspires to adapt its forces to the long-term strategic challenges resulting from its invasion of Ukraine. It remains unclear how Russia will find the recruits to complete such an expansion at a time when its forces are under unprecedented pressure in Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence recently assessed.

As the war looks like it will drag on for months, if not years, the two sides are preparing for the long haul. 

The Ukrainians are already working toward an army of 1 million troops. Kyiv has been sending thousands of newly enlisted troops abroad—mainly in the United Kingdom—for basic and advanced training, thus creating a ready reserve to throw in combat when the time is ready. Every four months, the training program dishes out 10,000 trained troops ready for combat. 

On the other hand, the Russian military has been pursuing a different approach. Moscow has been primarily sending newly enlisted troops straight to the frontlines to plug gaps.

The Russian Casualties in Ukraine

The Russian forces continue to suffer heavy losses on the ground, with an average of 400 to 500 men killed daily. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 102,600 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 283 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 267 attack and transport helicopters, 3,016 tanks, 1,996 artillery pieces, 6,017 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 418 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,647 vehicles and fuel tanks, 211 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,707 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 178 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 653 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.