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Putin orders Russian military to add 170,000 troops for a total of about 1.32 million

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered the country’s military to increase the number of troops by nearly 170,000 to a total of 1.32 million, as Moscow’s military action in Ukraine continues into its 22nd month.

Putin’s decree was released by the Kremlin on Friday and took force immediately. It brings the overall number of Russian military personnel to about 2,200,000, including 1,320,000 troops.

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It is the second such expansion of the army since 2018. The previous boost by 137,000 troops, ordered by Putin in Aug. 2022, put the military’s numbers at about 2 million personnel and about 1,150,000 troops.

The Defense Ministry said the order doesn’t imply any “significant expansion of conscription,” saying in a statement that the increase would happen gradually by recruiting more volunteers. The ministry cited what it called “the special military operation” in Ukraine and the expansion of NATO as the reasons for beefing up the army.

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NATO’s “joint armed forces are being built up near Russia’s borders and additional air defense systems and strike weapons are being deployed. The potential of NATO’s tactical nuclear forces is being increased,” the statement read.

Boosting Russian troops is an appropriate response to “the aggressive activities of the NATO bloc,” the ministry said.

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