By Enyichukwu Enemanna
As Russia’s so called “special military operation” continues in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered the increase in the number of the country’s military forces by 137,000.
It is not however clear whether the military will beef up its ranks will involve the drafting a bigger number of conscripts, increasing the number of volunteer soldiers or using a combination of both. The decree takes effect on Jan. 1.
The presidential decree seeks to boost the number of Russian armed forces’ personnel to 2,039,758 overall, including 1,150,628 servicemen. A previous order put the military’s numbers at 1,902,758 and 1,013,628 respectively at the start of 2018.
The Kremlin has said that only volunteer contract soldiers take part in what it calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine, rejecting claims that it was pondering a broad mobilization.
Russian media and non-governmental organizations say Russian authorities have sought to bolster the number of troops involved in the military action in Ukraine by attracting more volunteers, engaging private military contractors and even offering amnesty to some prisoners in exchange for a tour of military duty.
All Russian men aged 18-27 must serve one year in the military, but a large number avoid the draft for health reasons or deferments granted to university students.