Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a 10% increase in the number of soldiers in the army on Thursday, amid an offensive against Ukraine and rising tensions with the West.
According to the decree issued by the government, which will take effect on January 1, 2017, the army should have two million members, including 1.15 million soldiers, as against 1.9 million, including more than one million fighters.
Strictly speaking, not counting civilian personnel, this represents an increase of 137,000 soldiers, or more than one-tenth of the current combat force.
The move, for reasons not explained in the decree, comes as the Russian military has been waging an offensive in Ukraine for more than six months, which has been extremely costly in human and material resources.
After failing to take Kyiv at the start of the intervention, Moscow’s forces are now concentrating their efforts in eastern and southern Ukraine, where fronts have moved slightly in recent weeks.
The Kremlin has so far avoided pursuing a general mobilization, which is feared by many Russians.
The number of Russian soldiers has also increased at a time when relations between Moscow and the West are facing an unprecedented crisis since the end of the Cold War.