Russian President Vladimir Putin increased the tabular number of Russian soldiers by almost 170,000 with his decree, the state agency TASS reported on Friday, citing a document published on the Kremlin’s website. According to AFP, this means an increase in the number of positions in the army by 15 percent. Due to the president’s decree, mobilization is not expected, the Russian Ministry of Defense assured. According to him, the number of soldiers should be increased gradually, mainly by concluding voluntary contracts with the army.
TASS recalled that by the previous decree, effective from January 1 this year, Putin set the number of members of the armed forces at 2,039,758 people, including 1,150,628 soldiers. The new decree sets the strength of the armed forces at 2,209,130 people, including 1,320,000 soldiers.
Experts assume that the next mobilization, as an extremely unpopular measure, will not be announced at least until the presidential elections, which are to be held in March next year. When Putin announced a “partial mobilization” last September of some 300,000 reservists to supplement losses suffered by Russian troops fighting in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians of military age are estimated to have left Russia.
According to TASS, the Ministry of Defense explained the increase in the tabular number of members of the armed forces by the “increase in threats” that Russia faces due to the “special military operation”, i.e. the war against Ukraine, and due to the continued expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance, the increase in the number of alliance forces at the Russian borders and the growth of the potential of tactical of NATO’s nuclear forces due to the upcoming exchange of some 200 obsolete US nuclear bombs at bases in Europe and Turkey for a more modern, high-precision version. In such difficult conditions, increasing the number of combat-ready forces appears to be “an adequate response to the aggressive activity of the NATO bloc,” TASS added.
In mid-September, the commander of the Norwegian armed forces pointed out that the number of Russian troops in the polar regions near Norway had dropped to a fifth compared to the level before the outbreak of the war against Ukraine. Such weakening, according to the general, shows that Putin is very well aware that NATO does not threaten Russia in any way.
“If he believed we were a threat to Russia, he could not move his troops into Ukraine to wage war there,” General Eirik Kristoffersen said after a meeting with his NATO counterparts in Oslo. This pattern of Russian behavior also applies to Finland after it joined NATO in April, NATO Military Committee Chairman Rob Bauer noted at the time. According to him, the Russians talk about the NATO threat, but in fact they behave differently.