Russia is threatening to amass a massive new military force — and this is it

Emil Gastehelmi

Russia wants to massively increase its military strength. New units, military district units and other organizational changes may also be seen in Finland's neighboring regions in the future, writes special editor Emil Gustehelmi.

Russia has increased its wagon production, but still needs to use up a lot of its stock to make up for losses. AOP

Many changes are underway in the Russian Armed Forces. Military districts are being reorganized, the declared goal is to build up large numbers of new troops, and rumors of a new wave of mobilization are rife.

What Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shogun Speaking of dozens of new brigades and divisions, what is planned for Finland's neighbors and how does the war in Ukraine affect the massive project? In colorful reports, regulations, and even Russian recruiting notices, vague, but some signs of future systems can be seen.

Russia wants new divisions – how and where?

Soigu in March 2024 said Significant reforms in the Russian Armed Forces. By the end of this year, the target is to create two new armies with 14 divisions and 16 brigades. Apart from this, according to Soigu, Russia has separately created a new army force, a motorized infantry division and a river force for the Dnipro River.

In terms of manpower, the target is huge. The exact structure of the proclamation is unclear, as it does not specify exactly what types of divisions and regiments are being established. In other words, it is not clear how much of the troops are planned as armored units, motorized infantry units, artillery units or other units.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin, who is wanted for war crimes, in a meeting. AOP

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The defense minister also did not elaborate on the reasons for setting up the troops. Russia can approach the goals in three ways – by building on old ones, creating new groups or merging them.

Presumably, Russia aims to create new divisions and regiments mainly by augmenting existing forces. This means, for example, that platoons and platoons can be augmented or merged to form larger groups. During the war, Russia trained and brought forward dozens of reserve regiments, for example, which would serve as building blocks for larger groups in the future.

With such organizational changes, it would be possible to acquire new units in Russia without the need for an absolutely explosive increase in the number of men in the armed forces. Even in this case, the need to recruit new soldiers could increase by tens of thousands, as new groups require more troops even though some basic starting points are already in place.

First, the change will probably be nominal in many places, as the war in Ukraine eats up both soldiers in Russia's service and, on the other hand, recruiting capacity.

The billboard tells about the valor of Russian soldiers. Russians have committed many war crimes in Ukraine. AOP

Another option is to create new powers from scratch. In this case, assembling all the declared forces on an accelerated schedule would mean the mobilization of approximately 200,000 more soldiers, practically a new wave of mobilization.

It is not clear where Russia will be able to find the resources and equipment to build up such a large number of troops, while at the same time making up for the constant losses at the front. Converting existing units into larger departments would be at least somewhat difficult, especially in terms of equipment.

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Russia can maintain its current troop numbers, especially in terms of manpower, but a significant increase in the number of combat troops increases the overall need for reinforcements. Russia is not producing enough modern equipment, especially new production, to cover the continuing losses of the war in Ukraine and to equip a whole new army of newly formed forces.

Lack of trained personnel is also an unavoidable problem. If the forces to be established are to supplement the garrison in Ukraine on the battlefields, the new personnel will need competent officers. Training high-ranking officials is a job that spans years or even decades, so the positions demand more than skilled workers.

On the other hand, the same applies to regular soldiers – good soldiers are not born by themselves, but troops must also have efficient and effective training systems.

Large forces on the Finnish border

Russia's military districts were officially reorganized at the end of February 2024, with the Western Military District split into the Leningrad and Moscow Military Districts. By Presidential Decree. In the reform, the Military District of the Northern Fleet or the Northern Military District, which existed for only a few years, was merged with the Leningrad Military District. At the same time, territories captured from Ukraine were annexed to the Southern Military District.

Russia justifies the new division, especially in the changed geopolitical situation, with Finland and Sweden in NATO, and the West increasingly hostile. The Leningrad Military District is responsible for the Baltic and Northern directions, while the Moscow Military District looks after Eastern and Central Europe.

When military districts are divided, the boundaries change, but only partially content. The establishment of the new military corps mentioned in Shoigu's speeches is related to the 44th Army Corps, which may be established in the Leningrad Military District. In the past, new military units were established on the territory of the Republic of Karelia, but now few Recruitment Notifications This implies that new military forces will be assembled at least at Ile-Lauka, i.e. Luka. It could be the same crowd.

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Russian equipment destroyed in Donetsk. AOP

Institutional changes also reach the Arctic. Alakurt's 80th Arctic Guards Motorized Infantry Regiment and Petsamo's 200th Separate Guards Motorized Infantry Regiment may form a new unit if Russia's announced plans come true in the future. Currently, they belong to the 14th Army Corps. At the same time, the 61st Guards Marine Regiment, located in the town of Sputnik, near Petsamo, may suffer the same fate.

Similar changes have been discussed in the area of ​​the recently abolished Western Military District. For example, the 138th Separate Guards Motorized Infantry Regiment located in Kamenka on the Karelian Isthmus and the 25th Separate Guards Motorized Infantry Regiment located in Luka would end up in one division, in which, on paper, a new large group would be born. Again.

Less is known about the separate motorized infantry division mentioned by Šoigu in March, but one war blogger focused on the formations, mostly correctly. Konstantin Mashovets Reviews on his Telegram channel, the new 27th Motorized Division will be created based on the 21st Motorized Infantry Regiment. Since the 21st Brigade belongs to the Central Military District, it rarely moves into neighboring areas of Finland.

Defense Minister Choigu examines ammunition production. AOP

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