LAST UPDATE: 17.40
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree today to increase the size of Russia’s armed forces from 1.9 to 2.04 million personnel as the war in Ukraine enters its seventh month.
Moscow has not announced any casualties in the war since the first weeks, but Western officials and the government in Kiev say the number is in the thousands.
The decree, according to which the military personnel with the addition of 137,000 soldiers will reach 1.15 million people, will take effect from January 1.
The last time Putin announced the size of the Russian military was in November 2017, when the number of combat personnel reached 1.01 million in the total strength of the armed forces including non-combat personnel, which reached 1 .9 million people.
Russia has not announced how many casualties it has suffered in Ukraine since the first weeks of the campaign, when it said 1,351 soldiers had been killed.
Western estimates say the true number could be at least 10 times higher, while Ukraine says at least 45,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded since the military invasion began on February 24, which Moscow calls a special military operation.
Kyiv is also reluctant to release figures on the number of its own soldiers killed in the war, but on Monday the head of Ukraine’s armed forces announced that nearly 9,000 soldiers had been killed in a rare update.
Putin’s decree does not say how the increase in the number of military personnel will be achieved, but instructs the government to allocate the corresponding funds.
According to an authoritative annual report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia had 900,000 active military personnel at the start of this year and reserves of 2 million with service within the past five years.
According to sources cited by the American newspaper The New York Times, 500 Russian soldiers are killed or injured every day in Ukraine. According to data from the US Department of Defense, Russia has sent almost 85% of its own military units to war.