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Moscow boosts troop numbers, citing Ukraine war, NATO expansion – POLITICO

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Russia is boosting the number of troops in its military for the second time in 15 months, citing the war in Ukraine and the expansion of the NATO defense alliance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered the military to increase the number of troops by nearly 170,000 to a total of 1.3 million as the Ukraine war grinds on after 21 months. Putin’s decree, which entered into force immediately, brings the overall number of Russian military personnel to 2.2 million, including 1.3 million troops.

The Russian defense ministry in a message posted on Telegram cited the war in Ukraine and NATO’s expansion — which was spurred by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine — as the reasons for the increase in army personnel. Finland joined the Western defense alliance this past spring, and Sweden said this week that Turkey has promised it will ratify Stockholm’s bid “within weeks.”

NATO’s “combined armed forces are being built up near Russia’s borders and additional air defense systems and strike weapons are being deployed,” the Russian ministry said in its post. “The potential of NATO’s tactical nuclear forces is being increased,” it added.

“Under the current conditions, an additional increase in the combat strength and size of the Armed Forces is an adequate response to the aggressive activities of the NATO bloc,” the ministry said.

It is the second time Russia has boosted its troop numbers since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The previous increase of 137,000 troops was ordered by Putin in August 2022.

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