The war in Ukraine has been going on for more than 14 months.
The Russian forces continue to take significant casualties on the ground in Ukraine.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 187,770 Russian troops, destroyed 308 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 294 attack and transport helicopters, 3,688 tanks, 2,863 artillery pieces, 7,051 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 539 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,784 vehicles and fuel tanks, 291 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,437 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 339 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 911 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
400,000 Volunteers for the Russian Military
The rate of Russian casualties might have slowed down, but the Russian military is still suffering from manpower shortages.
Although a specific breakdown of casualties among the Russian military, Wagner Group private military company, and pro-Russian separatist forces is impossible, a reasonable estimate is that the Russian military has lost upwards of 150,000 troops killed or wounded (the Russian forces have lost more than 220,000 troops in total).
To raise more troops, the Russian Ministry of Defense has launched a major new recruitment campaign for volunteers. The goal is to attract 400,000 volunteers.
Advertisements all over the country are targeting young Russians’ masculine pride and financial needs to attract volunteers to the Russian armed forces. But the Russian military is facing competition from the Wagner Group private military company.
Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mercenary group has been playing an important supporting role in the Kremlin’s “special military operation.” For months, the Wagner Group recruited heavily from Russian prisons with the permission of the Russian government. But now that arrangement has ended, and Wagner Group and the Russian military are competing for the same pool of volunteers.
“Since its access to prisoner recruitment was stopped, the Wagner Group private military company is also competing for the limited pool of Russian fighting-age men. It remains highly unlikely that the campaign will attract the MoD’s reported target of 400,000 volunteers,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate of the war.
To be sure, the Russian military can raise more men from more mobilizations. In September, the Russian Ministry of Defense called up 300,000 men in its partial mobilization. But the Kremlin doesn’t want to expend more political capital and call up additional reservists if it can avoid it.
“The authorities are almost certainly seeking to delay any new, overt mandatory mobilisation for as long as possible to minimise domestic dissent,” the British Military Intelligence added.
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.