The Russian military is setting the conditions for additional conscription to make up for the heavy casualties that its units have suffered in the Ukraine war.
On the 391st day of the war in Ukraine, the Russian forces are still looking for that operational breakthrough that could change the trajectory of the conflict.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Russian forces continue to lose men left and right.
The fighting in and around Bakhmut, in particular, has been extremely costly. The Russian military units and Wagner Group mercenary forces there have been averaging more than 500 killed and wounded troops every day.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 166,570 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number)
Destroyed equipment includes 305 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 290 attack and transport helicopters, 3,552 tanks, 2,586 artillery pieces, 6,879 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 507 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,428 vehicles and fuel tanks, 270 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,167 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 266 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 907 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
New Conscription Measures
Last week, Russian lawmakers introduced a bill that aims to change the age brackets for conscription from the current 18-27 to 21-30. The new law is likely to pass and come into effect in January 2024.
Although the current regime conscripts males between 18-21, a good portion of Russian men in the age range get a waiver because they are enrolled in a higher education program. The new law is likely designed to counter that by ensuring that those who skipped on serving because of college will eventually serve but at an older age.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced plans to increase the size of its military to more than 1.5 million.
“Russia continues to officially bar conscripts from operations in Ukraine, though at least hundreds have probably served through administrative mix ups or after being coerced to sign contracts,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate of the war.
But even if Moscow doesn’t deploy Russian conscripts on the frontlines, the Russian war machine still benefits by greater conscript numbers. Conscripts free up professional soldiers so that the latter can deploy to the conflict zone.
More MiG-29 Fighter Jets for Ukraine
After Poland’s announcement about the four MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets that are heading to Ukraine, Slovakia stepped up and is also sending aircraft to Ukraine.
Slovakia announced that it would be sending 13 MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets to Kyiv. Three of the aircraft have been grounded since 2008 and will be used for spare parts, while the rest are operational.
In total, besides Slovakia, two other countries have sent or have committed to sending fighter jets to Ukraine.
North Macedonia sent four old Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft to be used for spare parts to support the Ukrainian fleet. Poland is sending four MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets.
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. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.