When I was reading an article from nyt, I came across this sentence, with translation tool I can understand the meaning of it, but not the grammar structure.

Russian casualty numbers are estimated to be higher, but the military draws from a population roughly three times the size of Ukraine’s.

The meaning of this sentence is: the military population of A is three times of B? But I can't understand the usage of 'draws from a population'.

  • 1
    The [Russian] army is recruited from a population three times the size of Ukraine's [population]. Dec 16, 2023 at 15:12
  • @KateBunting so the draw from here means 'recruit from'? thank you!
    – Azarea
    Dec 16, 2023 at 15:14
  • 1
    I would find it more natural to say is drawn from, but that must be the meaning. Dec 16, 2023 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


I see no mystery here.

There are two clauses linked with "but", the clauses are independent.

The first clause has "Russian casulty numbers" as its subject, and a passive voice "are estimated" followed by the infinitive "to be higher", the infinitive is a catetative clause.

The second clause has "The military" as its subject, "draws" is the verb and "from a population three times the size of Ukraine" is a prepositional phrase. To "draw from a population" means it takes recruits from that group of people. The object of "draws" is omitted. But we understand it to be "recruits" (from the context). The part "three times the size of Ukraine" is a description, and equivalent to a relative clause "that is three times..."

Compare "Jack draws from a well on top of the hill" This would mean that he draws water from the well.

  • Why would a well be on top of a hill... wells are dug in the valley!
    – James K
    Dec 16, 2023 at 16:14
  • it wasn't a well, it was a volcanic crater lake. LOL
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 16, 2023 at 17:18

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