Russia has announced an ambitious plan to increase its military from 1 million to 1.5 million and create multiple new units. 

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu chief cited NATO’s plans to incorporate Finland and Sweden as a factor in the buildup.

Russian media reports say Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced reforms to the Russian army at this year’s final Defense Ministry Board meeting on December 21, which was attended by President Vladimir Putin. 

TASS reports that speaking at the meeting, Shoigu noted that two strategic territorial formations, the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts, need to be re-established in the Russian Armed Forces.

The Russian defense chief also pointed to the need to improve the structure of military branches of the Russian Armed Forces and raise responsibility of operational military commands for training and employing large units and armies.

Shoigu reportedly proposed setting up ten new divisions: five artillery, two air assault and three motorized infantry formations (with two of the latter to be stationed in the Zaporozhye and Kherson oblasts).

Several of Shoigu’s points are devoted to an upcoming increase in the army’s size

Meduza notes that the maximum number of service members in the army (contract soldiers, conscripts, and those who have been mobilized) will be increased from 1.15 to 1.5 million.  

The number of contract soldiers should rise by 290,000 — to a total of 695,000.  The plan is that, by the end of 2022, the Russian army will have 521,000 contract soldiers, and that they will, according to Shoigu, partially replace draftees (though he did not specify how this replacement will work).

A decision was made to create five new motorized rifle and air assault divisions and an army corps, as well as to deploy more than 10 brigades per division.  Several new aviation regiments and brigades, and five new artillery divisions, are also planned.  

Apart from that, the age for conscription will gradually change.  People will be conscripted starting at age 21, not 18, like now, but the upper age limit for conscription will be 30, instead of 27 as it is today. 

According to TASS, Putin backed the defense chief’s proposals.  He assured that the Russian Armed Forces would be developing “calmly, rhythmically, without any haste and persistently” while the country would not repeat mistakes of the past.  “We will not engage in militarization of the country and militarization of the economy,” he stressed.