More than 100,000 people have enlisted in the Russian army this year, former President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday, as Moscow tries to recruit volunteers for its offensive in Ukraine.
Moscow has carried out an aggressive military recruitment drive in recent months as Kyiv prepares for an offensive after months of stalemate in eastern Ukraine.
“Between January 1 and May 19, 117,400 people have been accepted into the ranks of the armed forces on a contractual basis and as part of our voluntary formations,” Medvedev said.
Mededev, who is now vice chairman of the Kremlin Security Council, said Russian authorities were still recruiting soldiers on contract.
In September, President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial” military mobilization, the first in Russia since World War II, which shocked the country and caused tens of thousands of people to flee.
Although reluctant to announce a second mobilization, Moscow has opted for a massive public relations campaign, hoping to lure the Russians in with economic incentives.
Authorities have not disclosed their targets, but according to various estimates, Moscow may be trying to recruit as many as 400,000 volunteers.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared in December that it was necessary to increase the number of combat troops to 1.5 million.
Russian authorities have not disclosed actual casualties, but in September, the Defense Ministry claimed that almost 6,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine.
According to Western estimates, some 150,000 Russian soldiers and some 150,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and wounded.