On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that would increase the size of the Russian military by 137,000 souls by a January 1, 2023 deadline.

Estimates as to the current size of the Russian military’s active force vary from around 900,000 – 1 million, with an additional 250,000 in the active reserves.

Ukraine’s military, prior to the invasion, consisted of around 200,000 soldiers with an additional 900,000 men listed as “reserves.”

In the former Soviet States, it remains common practice that a large segment of men are classified as “reserves” despite having never been full-time active military. For these reservists to become active-duty soldiers, it is usually thought to require several weeks of training, at the least.


Giving credence to rumors that Russia was struggling with low numbers of new men joining the military and low morale, Russian news reports have recently focused a number of segments on volunteers who had joined the Russian military. Atypical for military recruitment, one segment featured men who appeared to be in the 50s or 60s, and out-of-shape.

Estimates, earlier this month, by the United States Department of Defense and by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) stated that Russia had around 75,000 casualties so far in the war. Casualties are counted as both those killed as well as those injured.

Recent reports have indicated that around 1,000 men were selected from Russia’s prisons to join the Wagner Group – a mercenary organization that claims to be independent of the Kremlin. The Wagner group’s presence has been noted on the frontlines in Ukraine. Earlier, the Wagner Group participated in Moscow-supported conflicts throughout the Middle East and Africa.

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 23, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 23, 2024

Latest from the Institute for the Study of War.

Weeks ago, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine made public a plan to increase the size of the Ukrainian military to 1 million men. Such a dramatic increase in manpower will be expensive for Ukraine to handle. However, upon completion, Ukraine will rank as the 6th largest military in the world, following China (2.185 million), India (1.455 million), the United States (1.388 million), North Korea (1.28 million), and Russia which will have around 1.1 million troops by the end of Putin’s new build-up of military manpower.

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