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UK Defense Ministry: War may hamper expansion of Russian army in other parts of the country

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 26, 2024 2:19 PM 2 min read
An advertising billboard in St. Petersburg, Russia, displays an image of a Russian military personnel urging individuals to sign a service contract with the Russian Defense Ministry on Jan. 18, 2024. (Artem Priakhin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Russia is recruiting for its new 44th Army Corps in an attempt to expand its armed forces but may have to send it to Ukraine to sustain operations, the U.K. Defense Ministry (MoD) said on March 26.

The U.K. MoD said recruitment posters recently appeared in the city of Luga – in the newly established Leningrad Military District, where the unit will be based.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Mach 20 that the Russian Armed Forces will create two new combined arms armies, 14 divisions, and 16 brigades by the end of the year.

"We will continue to strengthen the Russian military proportionately to emerging threats to our country's security,” he said.

The U.K. MoD said the creation of the 44th Army Corps was part of an effort to “expand its forces in the north-west of the country, as most of its forces remain dedicated to operations in Ukraine.”

But it added that the situation in Ukraine may mean any force expansion efforts are put on hold.

“Russia will almost certainly have to decide whether new units such as the 44th Army Corps remain in their garrisons once established, or if they’re transferred to operations in Ukraine to maintain power there,” the U.K. MoD said.

“Newly-established units have previously been immediately committed to Ukraine, and it is almost certain that the need to sustain operations is hampering Russia’s wider force expansion ambitions,” it added.

Several observers pointed out that Moscow is likely to ramp up its mobilization efforts after the rigged presidential election, during which Russian President Vladimir Putin secured another six years in power.

As Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine entered its third year, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said that Moscow's casualties amounted to over 430,000. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin put the number at 315,000 killed and wounded.

High casualties forced Russia to launch a partial mobilization in the autumn of 2022. In January of this year, the Russian Defense Ministry said it aims to increase the size of its military to 1.5 million military personnel.

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