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General Christopher Cavoli, the head of U.S. European Command, warned this week that Russia’s military has grown stronger and has recovered faster from its war in Ukraine than the U.S. thought was possible.

Cavoli, who is also the supreme allied commander of Europe at the Western security alliance NATO, made the remarks Wednesday during a House Armed Services hearing on National Security Challenges in Europe.

“With the help of the United States, and invaluable help from other allies and partners, Ukraine has inflicted significant damage upon the Russian military,” he said in his opening remarks. “However, Russia relies on the mass and quantity available to a large country, and despite its military’s evident deficiencies and dysfunctions, continues to pose an existential threat to Ukraine.”

Cavoli said that Russia has increased its production of long range precision munitions and has started to buy “ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and long-range drones from third countries who were previously outside this fight.”

“In fact, it is mainly only in the land forces that Russia has suffered, losing over 2,000 tanks and 315,000 soldiers wounded or dead,” he said. “However, Russia is reconstituting that force far faster than our initial estimates suggested. The army is actually now larger – by 15 percent – than it was when it invaded Ukraine. Over the past year, Russia increased its front line troop strength from 360,000 to 470,000. Russia’s army increased the upper age limit for conscription from 27 to 30, which increases the pool of available military conscripts by 2 million for years to come.”

He said that Russia is planning “an ambitious ground forces restructure” in which they want to drastically increase the size of their military and base many of the new forces “in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, as well as Karelia in the High North, opposite Finland.”


“Perhaps most concerning, the Russian military in the past year has shown an accelerating ability to learn and adapt to battlefield challenges both tactically and technologically, and has become a learning organization that little resembles the chaotic force that invaded Ukraine two years ago,” he said.

“In sum, Russia is on track to command the largest military on the continent and a defense industrial complex capable of generating substantial amounts of ammunition and materiel in support of large scale combat operations,” he said. “Regardless of the outcome of the war in Ukraine, Russia will be larger, more lethal, and angrier with the West than when it invaded. Diplomatically, Russia has used the past two years to attempt to alter the global security architecture by creating relationships that challenge the existing order.”

He added that Russia “shows no signs of stopping” and does not “intend to stop with Ukraine.”