Russia is preparing to expand its military to 1.5 million people and set up new commands near Europe as tensions rise with the United States and its allies nearly one year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to Bloomberg, the new commands are being created on the border of Finland and in Ukrainian territories that have been “illegally annexed” by Russia.
Although the Kremlin hasn’t said how quickly the new developments will be completed, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu suggested that “major changes will start this year and continue through 2026.” Shoigu noted that expansion will involve all branches of the Russian military, and will include the creation of three new motorized-infantry divisions and two new airborne divisions.
Bloomberg reports, “Russia has repeatedly said it plans to boost deployments in the northwest in response to a pending expansion of NATO, where Finland and Sweden are in the process of joining, with their applications ratified by 28 of 30 alliance members. The Nordic countries’ entry into the military bloc would double its land border with Russia.”
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, Putin has been trying to set plans that will “reverse years of reductions in the ranks of Russia’s military,” and build it back up. The Kremlin has not shared how they will recruit new military members, but they have reportedly proposed raising the age for the draft to increase the amount of men who would be eligible for service.
A spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, said that the expansion of Russia’s military comes as a “response to the ‘proxy war’ he claimed the US and its allies are waging against Russia in Ukraine.” Ukrainians are continuing to fight Russia and defend their homeland since Putin’s invasion nearly one year ago.