The Russian military is facing a manpower shortage in its war against Ukraine and is seeking to add contract personnel and may even attract convicted criminals, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, citing intelligence reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Thursday to increase the size of Russia’s armed forces from 1.9 million to 2.04 million troops, as the war in Ukraine enters its seventh month.
Moscow has revealed no deaths in the conflict since its first weeks, but Western officials and the kyiv government say their casualties number in the thousands.
“The Russian military is experiencing severe manpower shortages in Ukraine,” said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source said the Russian Defense Ministry is believed to be trying to recruit troops by contract to counter this shortage, “including forcing wounded soldiers back into combat, hiring personnel from private security companies and paying bonuses to recruits.”
“On the other hand, we have credible information that the Russian Defense Ministry is also likely to start recruiting convicted criminals in Ukraine in exchange for pardons and financial compensation,” he said.