Russia's plan for a 1.5 million-strong army: The Ukraine War in Data

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The Ukraine War in data: Russia announces plans for a 1.5 million-strong army

When it comes to data involving the war in Ukraine, few items generate as much interest as statistics involving Russia’s armed forces — be they from the front lines or casualty list, mobilizations or desertions. Last September’s call up of Russian troops brought change to the battlefield in Ukraine and controversy across Russia itself. This week, the Russian defense ministry put forth another crucial number: a proposed increase of nearly 50 percent in the size of the Russian army.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday it was “necessary” to raise the number of troops serving in the Russian army to 1.5 million, from the current level of roughly 1.1 million. If his proposal goes through, it will mean the recruitment of an additional 350,000 soldiers. Shoigu spoke at a defense ministry board meeting, at which the military also announced plans to create new command posts in regions around Moscow, St. Petersburg and Karelia, on the border with Finland. Other units are to be set up on the Ukrainian territories that Russia has illegally annexed.

Shoigu didn’t say how the new recruitment goals would be met; as we reported in this space last week, military spending has also driven Russian government revenues into deficit, and any hint of another mass mobilization could spark protest in Russia. But Shoigu did propose boosting the age range for mandatory military service, presumably to wean out the youngest recruits and add men in their late 20s. “In staffing the Armed Forces, it’s necessary that we gradually increase the [minimum] recruitment age for citizens from 18 to 21 and that we raise the upper limit [from 26] to 30,” Shoigu said.

Not long ago, Putin and the Kremlin were overseeing a gradual reduction of the Russian military. That was before Putin sent his army into Ukraine.

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We offer a comprehensive set of data points on the war in Ukraine below. Grid originally published this document March 24, the one-month anniversary of the war. We update it every Thursday to provide a fuller picture of the conflict.

Civilians killed: at least 7,000 (probably thousands more)

On June 7, a Ukrainian official said at least 40,000 Ukrainian civilians had been killed or wounded since the war began. The official offered no breakdown of dead versus wounded civilians. The United Nations’ latest estimate of civilians killed is more than 7,000, but it consistently notes the figure is an underestimate, as is its estimate of total casualties — a combination of deaths and injuries — given as more than 18,000. (Updated Jan. 18; source, source, source.)

Ukrainian soldiers killed: at least 13,000

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, estimated in early December that as many as 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the war began. In early November, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, estimated that both sides had seen about 100,000 soldiers killed or injured. (Updated Dec. 7; source, source.)

Russian soldiers killed: between 5,937 and 117,000

From the early days of the war, casualty counts for Russian soldiers have varied widely — depending on the source. Ukraine raised its estimate of Russian soldiers killed in the conflict to more than 117,000 on Wednesday. These numbers have been updated frequently through the Facebook page for the country’s General Staff of the Armed Forces. In its first update on casualties since March, Russia claimed in late September that there had been 5,937 Russian military deaths. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in April that there had been “significant losses of troops, and it’s a huge tragedy for us.”

A report by Meduza, an independent Russian media outlet, and the Russian branch of the BBC confirmed at least 10,000 dead Russian soldiers as of Dec. 9.

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Russia has also suffered a high rate of casualties among senior officers. Thirteen Russian generals have been killed, according to Ukrainian authorities; the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency puts the figure at eight to 10. Grid’s Tom Nagorski and Joshua Keating previously reported on the possible explanations for this “inconceivable” toll: poor communications and command-and-control structures within the Russian military. (Updated Jan. 18; source.)

Total displaced Ukrainians: approximately 14 million

There are more than 7.9 million Ukrainian refugees currently reported in other European countries. United Nations’ data indicates more than 17 million Ukrainians have crossed the border since the start of the war, but millions have returned home, largely from Poland, as Nikhil Kumar and Kseniia Lisnycha reported. In late October, the International Organization for Migration’s latest survey of internally displaced Ukrainians found more Ukrainians returning home from within Ukraine, but 5.9 million remained displaced within their own country. (Updated Jan. 18; source; source.)

Internally displaced Ukrainians: approximately 5.9 million

An overview of the violence


Global food markets: Wheat prices rose sharply after the invasion but have since fallen back to pre-war levels.

Recent Grid coverage

Learn more: Grid’s 360s on the Ukraine War

  • Tom Nagorski
    Tom Nagorski

    Global Editor

    Tom Nagorski is the global editor at Grid, where he oversees our coverage of global security, U.S.-China relations, migration trends, global economics and U.S. foreign policy.

  • Justin Rood
    Justin Rood

    Investigations Editor

    Justin Rood is the investigations editor for Grid, overseeing our team of award-winning investigative and data reporters.

  • Mariana Labbate
    Mariana Labbate

    Global Editorial Assistant

    Mariana Labbate is the editorial assistant for Grid's Global team.