Western officials believe that the regime is not confident it has the support for mass mobilisation in Russia’s biggest cities and is instead resorting to increasingly desperate measures to prevent a collapse in numbers.
The military is using “very active recruitment” among the most impoverished Russians, hiring from prisons and allowing older people to sign up, according to officials.
Sources said hiring drives have stayed away from the big cities where support for the war is lower.
The Ministry of Defence also said on Tuesday that losses are forcing Russia to turn to “non-traditional recruitment”, suggesting it has suffered problems hiring.
It said: “This includes recruiting personnel from Russian prisons for the Wagner Private Military Company.
“If true, this move likely indicates difficulties in replacing the significant numbers of Russian casualties.”
Russian forces have been depleted by a misfiring campaign. Ukraine’s military claims that almost 40,000 Russian soldiers have been killed during the conflict while its troops are given outdated equipment and just days of training. The West’s estimates of Russian losses are lower but still put them in the tens of thousands.”
Comment: Soldiers “recruited” in what are essentially press gang fashion are unlikely to be very useful. They will be more human flesh to feed the god of war. pl