Putin signs decree to boost the size of Russian forces

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In an apparent effort to replenish troops that have sustained significant losses in six months of deadly combat and get ready for a protracted, exhausting battle in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised a significant expansion of his nation’s military forces on Thursday.

The decision to boost army numbers by 137,000, or 13%, to 1.15 million by the end of the year coincided with ominous events in Ukraine:

— As per Ukrainian authorities, fires damaged the final functional transmission line, cutting off the Zaporizhzhia power plant in the centre of the conflict in southern Ukraine from the electrical system. The incident led to a regional blackout. A local Russian-installed official reported that the plant was later restored to the grid.

— 25 people have died as a result of a Russian rocket strike on a train station and the neighbourhood on Ukraine’s Independence Day, according to Ukrainian authorities. In its attack on Wednesday, Russia claimed to have attacked a military train and killed more than 200 Ukrainian reservists.

Putin’s order was vague as to whether the increase would be accomplished by expanding the draught, increasing volunteerism, or a combination of the two. The Kremlin’s worries about a potential domestic backlash from a larger conscription, however, led some Russian military strategists to foresee a greater dependence on volunteers.

With the addition of the 1.15 million personnel, the move will increase Russia’s armed forces to 2.04 million.

More Russians than the Soviet Union lost in its ten-year war in Afghanistan, according to estimates from the West, which vary from more than 15,000 to over 20,000. Up to 80,000 Russian soldiers may have been killed or wounded, according to the Pentagon’s report from last week, which makes Moscow less able to launch major offensives.

Only volunteer contract soldiers, according to the Kremlin, are involved in the conflict in Ukraine. However, it might be challenging to locate additional willing soldiers, and according to military analysts, the anticipated troop levels might not be enough to support operations.

Retired Russian Col. Retired Viktor Murakhovsky stated that the Kremlin will likely try to continue depending on volunteers and that this will account for the majority of the increase in remarks published by the Moscow-based RBC online news outlet.

Fighting near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia facility has raised concerns in Ukraine about a catastrophe akin to Chernobyl. Russia and Ukraine have both accused the other of bombarding the location.

It was unclear right away if the damaged line in the incident on Thursday carried incoming power or outgoing power needed to run the plant, including the crucial cooling system for the reactors. As per Ukrainian authorities, a backup power line that uses energy from a different, non-nuclear reactor is still connected and in use.

The Russian government has frequently asserted that its forces exclusively aim at legitimate military objectives after attacks in which civilians have died. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu maintained the military was doing all possible to save civilians hours before the massacre at the railway station, even if it meant slowing down its offensive in Ukraine.

In April, when large groups, primarily made up of women and children, tried to flee the fighting, a Russian missile attack on a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk resulted in the deaths of over 50 people. The assault was called a war crime.

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