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Washington says the Kremlin is struggling to strengthen the Russian army

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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A senior Pentagon official said Monday that the Russian military is struggling to recruit in the midst of the conflict with Ukraine, searching for volunteers even in prisons, to the point that new recruits are often “old, in poor condition and poorly trained.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin last week ordered an increase in the strength of the Russian army by 10%, or about 137,000 troops, by January 2023.

But the official, who asked not to be named, told reporters that “these efforts are unlikely to succeed,” explaining that the Russian military has historically struggled to meet its recruitment goals.

The United States estimates that the strength of the Russian military was 150,000 soldiers less than the stated goal of 1 million in February 2022, prior to the invasion of Ukraine.

Since then, Russia has tried to send professional soldiers to the front instead of conscripts, but the conflict is costly in terms of human and material resources.

“Russia has already begun to recruit more to form at least one volunteer battalion in each region and to raise a third army corps,” she said. “They did this by abolishing the minimum age for new recruits and also by recruiting prisoners.”

She concluded her speech by saying, “We can note that many of these new recruits were old, in poor condition and poorly trained.” “All this suggests that the new recruits that Russia may attract by the end of the year will not enhance the country’s combat power.”

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After failing to capture Kyiv at the start of the intervention, Russian forces are now concentrating their efforts in eastern and southern Ukraine, where the fronts have moved little in recent weeks.

The Kremlin has so far refrained from proceeding with general mobilization, a measure many Russians fear.

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