As we enter the sixth month of the Ukraine-Russia war, it seems like Ukraine is gaining an edge with their strategic defenses and long-range attacks. Many hope the war will end before 2022 closes, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has something else in mind.

Russian forces are experiencing a thinning in their troops. Last month, SOFREP reported Russians were hiring mercenary group Wagner just to fill in the front lines. Wagner usually hires ex-convicts and “strays” who are extremely aggressive and have limited-to-no military training. Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin owns the Wagner group, and even though there were multiple times Moscow denied allegations of direct relationship with the group, it is known in the community that Wagner doesn’t move without approval from Putin.

Nonetheless, Putin is looking to increase the numbers of the Russian Armed forces to nearly 2.04 million. The increase will focus on adding new soldiers (not civilian employees) to their numbers, which means they will need to recruit about 1.15 million troops in a short period of time. According to Putin’s latest decree, the Russian military will be operating with a new level of manpower starting next year.

Russian special forces
Russian special forces. (Source: SpetsnazAlpha/Wikimedia)

This was a reversal of Moscow’s previous plan to thin out their military forces because they were getting obsolete. But now, with the Ukraine-Russia war, it seems like they’re looking to the future. The last time Putin increased the Russian army was back in November 2017, when he moved the allocation of combat personnel from 1.01 million to 1.9 million.

The details of the decree were very limited. They didn’t state how they would hire new soldiers nor where the money would be coming from to feed, pay and house the new troops. Even with their new lowered standard for military entry, most Russians are reportedly hesitant to join the forces after seeing the beating the Russian army is taking at the hands of Ukrainian Ground Forces for six months.

Russia also refrained from publishing any information about the casualties they had during the past six months, but Western intelligence estimates dead and injured around 75,000 since the war started.

“They have a serious manpower issue,” retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, whose last position before retiring included command of all U.S. Army operations in Europe beginning the year Russia first invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014, tells U.S. News. “Candidly, it doesn’t look to me like there are many people who want to be in the Russian army right now.”

Beyond a shortage in manpower, there is also a chronic material shortage as well.  Endemic corruption may be siphoning off as much as 40% of Russia’s military budget before it ever reaches the troops. The result is that Russian troops are badly equipped, trained, and poorly housed and fed.  Russia may be able to hustle up 800 more troops, but whether they can actually sustain them in the field is another matter entirely.