Bracing for fights ahead, Russia and Ukraine step up recruitment

Ukrainian soldiers monitoring the movements of Russian troops on the front line in Toretsk, in eastern Ukraine on March 29, 2023. Moscow's forces are struggling to achieve a decisive breakthrough months into an offensive aimed at capturing all of the Donbas region, even as the Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday that Russian jets, drones and artillery had been pounding eastern Ukraine. [Mauricio Lima/The New York Times]

Their soldiers battling and dying across muddy trenches, ruined towns and sprawling minefields, Russia and Ukraine have stepped up recruitment drives to bolster their badly depleted militaries, in another sign that both sides are steeling themselves for a long war.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed a decree on Thursday authorizing a larger-than-normal spring draft, with a target of about 147,000 men, about 10% more than the goal of Russia's 2022 spring drive. Although the new recruits are unlikely to go to the battlefield immediately - and one Russian official claimed they would not be sent there at all - the draft will create a bigger pool of potential troops for Russia's army, which has suffered immense casualties.

Ukraine, also trying to replenish its ranks, said that it had received more than 35,000 applications for a new force it is forming, the Offensive...

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