On day 306 of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military is scrambling to deal with another attack within its borders while Moscow is trying to raise an army of 1.5 million men. 

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Ukrainian forces attacked Engels airbase, a hub for Russian strategic bombers located approximately 400 miles east of Ukraine, with a drone, killing three troops. The Ukrainian attack comes a few weeks after a similar strike that damaged two Russian strategic bombers. 

Moscow has used strategic bombers for its devastating missile attacks against Ukrainian urban centers and critical infrastructure. 

The Russian 1.5 million Men Army 

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his plans to expand the Russian military to 1.5 million men, an around 30 percent increase from its current size. 

The Russian leader didn’t present a specific timeline for this expansion. Putin has already called up 300,000 reservists during his partial mobilization in September. The Kremlin would have to increase the country’s industrial capacity as well to meet the needs of a growing military but also to replenish the extensive materiel losses from Ukraine. Moscow is also relying on the mercenaries of Wagner Group.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated that the expansion would require the elevation of at least two brigades to divisions. Shoigu identified the northwestern Russian military district, which faces Finland and Norway, as a possible first command for the expansion, citing the upcoming accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO as the main reason.

“This constitutes one of the first insights into how Russia aspires to adapt its forces to the long-term strategic challenges resulting from its invasion of Ukraine. It remains unclear how Russia will find the recruits to complete such an expansion at a time when its forces are under unprecedented pressure in Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence recently assessed.

As the war looks like it will drag on for months, if not years, the two sides are preparing for the long haul. 

The Ukrainians are already working toward an army of 1 million troops. Kyiv has been sending thousands of newly enlisted troops abroad—mainly in the United Kingdom—for basic and advanced training, thus creating a ready reserve to throw in combat when the time is ready. Every four months, the training program dishes out 10,000 trained troops ready for combat. 

On the other hand, the Russian military has been pursuing a different approach. Moscow has been primarily sending newly enlisted troops straight to the frontlines to plug gaps.