US General: The current size of the Russian army is larger than before the war in Ukraine
Russian artillery attacked Ukrainian positions in November 2023. Photo: Russian Defense Ministry

The commander of US forces in Europe said that the size of the Russian army has increased by 15% compared to the time the Ukraine conflict broke out.

“Russia is on track to possess the largest military force on the European continent,” said General Christopher Cavoli, head of the US European Command (EUCOM) and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. On April 10, I spoke at a hearing in the House of Representatives.

Cavoli said Russia is recruiting 30,000 soldiers each month. “The size of the Russian army is now 15% larger than when the conflict with Ukraine broke out,” Cavoli said. This is partly due to Russia’s policy of raising the maximum age for military service from 27 to 30 years old. This policy could help the Russian army have an additional two million conscripts in the coming years.

At the end of 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree increasing the maximum number of soldiers in the Russian armed forces by 170,000 people to a total of 1.32 million soldiers.

According to General Cavoli, Russia last year increased the number of troops on the front line from 360,000 to 470,000 people. “Regardless of the outcome of the conflict with Ukraine, Russia will become more powerful, more dangerous and angrier with the West than before,” he warned.

Despite “heavy losses” in the war with Ukraine, the Russian army is recovering strongly, Mr. Cavoli assessed. According to Western estimates, Russia lost thousands of tanks and at least 300,000 military casualties.

“The fighting has caused some gaps in the Russian forces, but their overall capabilities are formidable, and they intend to improve them further,” he said.

General Cavoli admitted that Russia was “exceptionally successful” in rebuilding its army, most notably in refurbishing, repairing and manufacturing tanks. “They still deploy many tanks into battle like in the first phase of the conflict,” he said.

Strategic forces, long-range air warfare, cyber warfare, aerospace and electronic warfare did not suffer losses in the conflict with Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force suffered a loss of 10% of its force size.

“The Russian Air Force remains largely intact. We do not see significant losses, especially with strategic and long-range squadrons,” General Cavoli assessed.

US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell last week also commented that the Russian military had almost completely recovered after heavy losses in the conflict with Ukraine. “Their new capabilities pose a longer-term challenge to stability in Europe and threaten NATO allies,” Mr. Campbell said on April 3.

The comments of General Cavoli and Deputy Minister Campbell were made in the context of declining military aid from the West to Ukraine. An important aid package worth $60 billion is still stuck in the US Congress after months of debate. Ukraine now depends on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to block Russia’s advance, but these weapons cannot replace what Kyiv needs.

General Cavoli warned that if the US does not continue to support, “Ukraine will run out of artillery shells and anti-aircraft missile shells in a very short time.” “According to my experience of more than 37 years serving in the US military, the side that cannot shoot back will lose,” he said.