Shoigu called war and army expansion the only option for Russia’s development

Only by continuing hostilities in Ukraine and expanding the army can Russia’s socio-economic development be achieved, Defense Ministry head Sergei Shoigu said at a conference call with the senior staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

According to him, the army is currently “constantly taking more favorable positions and expanding controlled territories” in Ukraine.

“We are consistently going towards achieving the stated goals of the special operation. In the emerging situation, the Ministry of Defense continues its planned activities to build strong, reliable, well-equipped, motivated Armed Forces. This is the only way to ensure peaceful social and economic development of our country”, Shoigu emphasized.

According to him, the main goal of the Russian army in Ukraine in 2023 was to disrupt the announced counter-offensive of the AFU. “This task has been successfully accomplished”, Shoigu said, adding that this was helped by the construction of defensive lines, the “high combat effectiveness” of all units and the “reliability” of Russian military equipment.

“At an extended meeting of the Collegium, the supreme commander-in-chief set priority tasks for the defense ministry for 2024”, Shoigu said, without specifying what exactly they are.

In December, Vladimir Putin signed his second decree in six months to expand the size of the armed forces. The new target is 2.209 million people: including 1.32 million direct military personnel.

This is 170,000 more than required by Putin’s previous similar decree, signed in August 2022 – a few weeks before mobilization was announced. At that time, the Armed Forces were increased to 2.039 million and the number of servicemen to 1.15 million.

By the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, the authorized strength of the Russian Armed Forces was 1.9 million people, including 1.01 million servicemen. Thus, with two decrees, Putin increased it by more than 300,000 people, which is how many dead and wounded the Russian Armed Forces lost in Ukraine, according to Western data.

Next year, the Russian Armed Forces plan to create one more army corps, seven divisions, 19 brigades, 49 regiments and one flotilla, Dmitrii Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said in October at a meeting on staffing the army with contractors. He said the decision was made “by the commander-in-chief” and its goal is “effective defense of the independence and security of the state”.

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