Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 23 December 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Putin Pledges Reinforcements To Country’s Western Flank
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended an expanded meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry Board. The Russian leader made some remarks on what he referred to as the “special military operation” in Ukraine, but what Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the meeting seemed more far-reaching. He publicly presented a series of proposed Russian defense policy changes to significantly increase the size of the Russian military by raising the age limit for conscripts and forming a new military unit near the border with Finland, a prospective NATO member.
Most surprisingly, Shoigu announced a plan to raise the age limit for conscripts. Russia will be gradually increasing the age of conscription for military service from 18 to 21 years. The age limit for conscripts will be raised from 27 to 30 years. The duty period remains the same. Why the age limit for conscripts was raised was unknown, but those at risk are men aged between 27 and 30. This group includes far more people than those aged between 18 and 21. Fewer people are allowed to defer military service because they have one child while not many young Russians now have two or more children. An extra advantage is that older and better-educated people will join the army. Russia should expand its armed forces to 1.5 million troops from the current 1.15 million to ensure its security, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin. The total should include 695,000 professional contract soldiers, he said, without explaining where the additional recruits would be found. Speaking at the meeting, Putin said Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war in Ukraine, as he urged the army to deliver on his declared goals. He emphasized the value of upgrading drone tactics and communications specifically. Putin also mentioned some issues related to the military call-up. Shoigu made reference to mobilization, saying the ministry coped with it overall despite some issues. The defense minister suggested expanding military units in northwestern Russia, saying it was due to “NATO’s willingness to bolster military capabilities near its border with Russia.” A new army corps stationed in the northwest area of Karelia, close to Finland, is among the new military units and force formations that Shoigu described for western Russia. The Russian marine corps will be reorganized while the 200th and the 80th Motorized Rifle Divisions in Pechenga and Alakurtii will be both expanded. Furthermore, Shoigu proposed that Russia reestablish the Moscow and Leningrad military districts. There are currently five military districts in Russia: Western, Central, Eastern, Southern, and Northern.
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