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Putin reveals number of troops engaged in Ukraine conflict

Almost 700,000 servicemen are currently taking part in Moscow’s military campaign, the Russian president has said

Roughly 700,000 Russian soldiers are engaged in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. The number has grown by almost 100,000 since his previous estimate in December 2023, when he put the tally of those engaged in the military effort at around 617,000.

The president gave his estimate during a meeting with special military operation veterans, who are enrolled in a specialized state-supported educational program aimed at training public officials. “We love you all and consider you to be a part of the family,” Putin said, addressing the veterans.

In early April, the Russian Defense Ministry said that more than 100,000 Russian citizens had enlisted voluntarily for military service since the beginning of the year. Moscow has repeatedly said that the Russian military enjoys a steady flow of new recruits willing to sign contracts with the ministry.

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Russia doesn’t need to draft more soldiers – Kremlin

Moscow has also denied claims by Kiev and some Western media about a supposedly planned mobilization wave. In April, Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky stated that Russia was planning to mobilize an additional 300,000 troops by as early as June 1. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the claim as simply “not true.”

In May, the Financial Times reported that a second wave of mass recruitment in Russia would “inevitably” come later this year. Peskov again dismissed the claim, saying it is “unlikely” that the British newspaper understands the “real picture.”

Russia carried out a partial mobilization in September 2022, seven months into the conflict. This allowed 300,000 people, primarily those with previous military experience, to be called to duty. Following this, further recruitment was carried out on a voluntary basis.

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Putin says Ukrainian losses five times higher

In December, Putin said that out of 617,000 troops taking part in the military effort, 244,000 in the combat zone were those called up when Russia announced partial mobilization. Some 41,000 soldiers drafted during the September 2022 mobilization drive were subsequently discharged for health reasons or after reaching the maximum age, he added.

Ukraine, meanwhile, has been struggling to replenish its army ranks amid a series of military setbacks. In April, Kiev adopted a new mobilization law that lowered the conscription age from 27 to 25, expanded the powers of enlistment officers, and introduced stricter penalties for draft dodgers. In May, a law was also passed allowing some prison inmates to be released on parole for joining the military.

In early June, Putin estimated that the Ukrainian military was losing at least 50,000 people a month. While not specifying the number of Russian casualties, the president said that the number of irrecoverable losses was at least five times less than those incurred by Kiev’s forces.

June 15, 2024 at 02:13AM

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