Putin orders increase in Russian military in the face of Ukraine losses
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a major buildup of his country’s military forces Thursday in an apparent effort to replenish troops that have suffered heavy losses in six months of bloody warfare and prepare for a long, grinding fight ahead in Ukraine.
The move to increase the number of troops by 137,000, or 13%, to 1.15 million by the end of the year came amid chilling developments on the ground in Ukraine:
— Fueling fears of a nuclear catastrophe, the Zaporizhzhia power plant in the middle of the fighting in southern Ukraine was briefly knocked out of commission by fire damage to a transmission line, authorities said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the plant’s emergency backup diesel generators had to be activated to provide power needed to operate the plant.
“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans one step away from a radiation disaster,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
— The death toll from a Russian rocket attack on a train station and the surrounding area climbed to 25, Ukrainian authorities said. Russia said it targeted a military train and claimed to have killed more than 200 Ukrainian reservists in the attack, which took place Wednesday on Ukraine’s Independence Day.
Putin’s decree did not specify whether the expansion would be accomplished by widening the draft, recruiting more volunteers, or both. But some Russian military analysts predicted heavier reliance on volunteers because of the Kremlin’s concerns about a potential domestic backlash from an expanded draft.
The move will boost Russia’s armed forces overall to 2.04 million, including the 1.15 million troops.
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