• Vladimir Putin has ordered the expansion of the Russian military to by 137,000 troops starting in 2023.
  • Putin did not detail how this would be achieved in the new decree signed Thursday.
  • Russian forces have sustained heavy casualties in Ukraine, according to Pentagon estimates.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Thursday an increase in the size of his country's military by 137,000 troops. The move comes as his forces continue to struggle on the battlefield in Ukraine.  

The new order calls for boosting the number of Russia's available combat personnel from 1.01 million to 1.15 million and is set to go into effect on January 1, 2023, according to a decree shared on a government website and translated by media outlets.

According to Reuters, the decree did not specify how the troop increase would be achieved. Russia could, for instance, pursue a larger draft of conscripts or look for ways to increase volunteer service.

Russia's military generally maintains around 900,000 active-duty service personnel, a significant force but one much smaller than the Soviet Union's 3.5 million during the Cold War.  

Putin's decree comes one day after his unprovoked war in Ukraine hit its six-month mark on Wednesday. So far, his forces have little to show for their efforts and have sustained heavy losses as the war continues to drag out in a slow-moving and bloody campaign in eastern and southern Ukraine. 

Prior to Russia's late-February invasion, over 150,000 troops had gathered along the Ukrainian border, and there were expectations that Russian forces would be able to topple Kyiv and achieve a quick victory. That didn't happen though, and Russia has instead found itself fighting a tough war of attrition.

Russia has been reluctant to elaborate on the war's progress or on how many losses its forces have suffered, and when it has, assessments have appeared inconsistent with realities on the ground.

Recent estimates from the Pentagon said that Russian forces have endured as many as 80,000 casualties — meaning killed or wounded — throughout the war. Its forces have also lost quite a few generals and senior officers in combat, and thousands of Russia's armored vehicles, among other warfighting equipment, have been damaged or destroyed in battle.

Ukraine's top general, meanwhile, said the country has lost an estimated 9,000 troops since the war began, though it is possible that number could be higher given the murky nature of casualty reporting.

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