Why Russia’s efforts to replenish its depleted armed forces might not matter much in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week signed a decree expanding the size of Russia’s armed forces by around 137,000 active duty personnel, bringing the total force to 1.15 million, as early as January – but that decision ‘is unlikely to change significantly the fortunes of the country in its war in Ukraine”, The New York Times reports, citing US and UK officials and independent military analysts.

Whether Russia is trying to achieve these goals by recruiting “contract” volunteers or conscription, Putin’s decree “is unlikely to make substantial progress toward increasing Russia’s combat power in Ukraine.” The UK Ministry of Defense assessed on Sunday. “That’s because Russia has lost tens of thousands of troops; very few new contract military are being recruited; and conscripts are technically not required to serve outside of Russian territory.”

Among Russia’s estimated 80,000 Ukrainian casualties are trainers and military officers, meaning that while Russia can attract many recruits, it may struggle to prepare them for combat.

All of this suggests that Putin is struggling in Ukraine, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis and former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told NBC. Meet the press on Sunday.

Ukraine also suffered many losses, The Economist Remarks. “The war will depend, in part, on which side can replenish and expand its army faster.” Russia is preparing to deploy a series of volunteer battalions to Ukraine, many of them grouped into a new 3rd Army Corps formation, and online footage suggests they are arriving with “modern weapons of a type rarely deployed in Ukraine”. The Wall Street Journal reports.

At the same time, “a lot of guys they get into are old, broke and out of shape,” said Tom Bullock of defense intelligence firms Janes. The Economist. And, the Institute for the Study of Warfare wrote on Saturday, “Better equipment does not necessarily make forces more effective when personnel are not well trained or disciplined, like many members of 3rd Volunteer units. army corps are not”.

Ukraine, for its part, has “a wide range of volunteer men”, and Britain has pledged to train 10,000 recruits in Kent over the next 120 days, The Economist reports. “Over 2,000 soldiers have already been trained and returned to Ukraine”, and their British trainers describe them as highly motivated and eager to learn, as “soldiers fighting for national survival tend to be”.