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ISW: Russian Defense Ministry will likely continue utilizing 'crypto-mobilization' recruitment methods

by Olena Goncharova December 3, 2023 6:58 AM 2 min read
Russian military conscripts during training in Rostov, Russia on Oc. 31, 2022. (Photo by Arkady Budnitsky/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The Russian Ministry responded to President Vladimir Putin’s Dec. 1 decree increasing the size of the Russian military and said that the ministry is implementing the increase in stages “on account of citizens who express a desire to perform military service under a contract.”

This language may refer to volunteers, whom the ministry has courted through a widespread crypto-mobilization effort in Russia, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in their latest update on Dec. 2.

The ISW explained that the phrasing used by the ministry suggests that the Russian military may use volunteer recruitment for long-term force generation.

On Dec. 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to increase the size of Russia's army by 170,000 people, bringing it to a new total of 1,320,000 military personnel. Russia's Defense Ministry said that it was a response to an "increase in threats" that are associated with its full-scale war in Ukraine, as well as "ongoing NATO expansion."

The Defense Ministry clarified that Putin’s decree does not portend a significant increase in the number of conscripted Russians nor a second wave of mobilization.

Putin‘s decree, which formally increased the size of the Russian military from 2.039 million personnel to 2.209 million personnel and total Russian combat personnel from 1.15 million to 1.32 million, "is likely an official acknowledgment of the actual end strength of the Russian military and not an order for an immediate increase," according to the ISW.

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