Russian soldiers approached the front line in the fighting with Ukraine on November 7. Photo: RIA Novosti

Russia announced that its military will increase the number of troops to more than 1.3 million people to respond to threats such as NATO’s continued expansion.

In a December 1 announcement, the Russian Ministry of Defense said the maximum number of the country’s armed forces increased by 170,000 people, equivalent to about 15%, according to a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin two days earlier. This decision brings the total number of Russian troops to 1,320,000 people.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the troop increase is being carried out in stages with citizens wishing to sign contracts with the armed forces. The agency affirmed that it has no plans to change military service or other mobilization measures.

“The decision to increase the number of permanent troops of the army was made due to growing threats to Russia related to special military operations and the continuous expansion of NATO,” the Russian Ministry of Defense explained. NATO is strengthening its combined forces near the Russian border, deploying additional air defense complexes and strike weapons.”

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, NATO is increasing the combat capabilities of its tactical nuclear forces. The US plans to replace 200 old nuclear bombs deployed in Europe and Türkiye with new, more accurate variants by the end of 2025.

“Under current conditions, increasing the combat power and size of the Russian armed forces is an appropriate response to NATO’s aggressive activities,” the Russian Defense Ministry stated.

The move to expand the size of Russia‘s military comes as both this country and Ukraine seek to regain their positions and replenish their forces in the nearly two-year conflict. The front line between the two sides has remained almost unchanged in recent months despite Ukraine sending many units to participate in a large-scale counterattack campaign starting in June.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted on November 30 that Ukraine’s counterattack was unexpected. Part of the reason is that the West does not provide Ukraine with the necessary weapons. Force limitations also prevented the counterattack campaign from taking place according to Ukraine’s wishes.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced on December 1 that the country’s military caused heavy losses to Ukraine, causing the combat capacity of the country’s armed forces to decline significantly. Minister Shoigu said Russia is advancing in all directions on the battlefield and will continue active defense, a strategy that considers attack as a way of defense.