Bringing the soldier back in - Russian military manning, manpower, and mobilisation in the light of Russia's war in Ukraine


  • Jonas Kjellén

Publish date: 2023-04-05

Report number: FOI-R--5461--SE

Pages: 100

Written in: English


  • Russia
  • armed forces
  • manning
  • conscription
  • recruitment
  • retention
  • mobilisation
  • servicemen
  • officer
  • contract soldier
  • patriotism
  • prizyvnik
  • kontraktnik
  • mobilizatsiya


The first year of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine has been ridden with Russian failures and massive military losses. Considering the primacy of military modernisation during the 2010s and several successful military operations conducted, the underperformance of Russia's Armed Forces is surprising. The report analyses how Russian military manning structure and strategies have evolved in the post-Soviet period, and how this can explain Russia's military failure in Ukraine. The picture that emerges is that the military reform, initiated in 2009, meticulously and finally dismantled the military structure inherited from the Soviet Union, including much of the formerly vast military logistical apparatus and the capability to scale up the military structure through mobilisation. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Russia's Armed Forces was in early 2022 in no position to fight a protracted, large-scale war in Central Europe, as its invasion of Ukraine rapidly became.