The Russian army is frantically trying to replenish its depleted ranks, after sustaining heavy losses since the invasion began. The Ukrainian military claims that over 25,000 Russian soldiers have already been killed, with many more injured. Speculation had been rife that Putin would declare marshal law and a general mobilisation on May 9, during Russia’s Victory Day celebrations.
Although this didn’t ultimately happen, reports have continually surfaced of covert mobilisation by the Kremlin.
In one instance, it is believed that bosses from state owned companies were ordered to find recruits from among their workers.
Now it would appear that the Russian president has decided to raid his jails and prisons in a desperate bid to provide his army with more fighters.
Th Kavkaz Center news channel claimed that convicted rapists and paedophiles were being released en masse from prisons in Russia, on condition they agreed to fight in Ukraine.
They said: “A Kavkaz Center source, citing his relative, who works in the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, reports of mass releases from prisons of those convicted of paedophilia, rape, drug addiction in exchange for consent to participate in the war against Ukraine.”
Western military experts believe Russia is close to exhausting its combat manpower and is in urgent need of fresh blood.
Nataliya Bugayova, an analyst from the Institute for the Study of War, said the Kremlin was approaching “the limits of the combat-capable manpower it can make available for the war in the short term”.
She added: “Troops have been pulled from every possible direction: private military contractors redeployed, recruits ginned up from Syria, and locals in occupied areas forcefully conscripted. Few options remain.”
The Russian parliament is currently considering a bill that would allow Russians over 40 and foreigners over 30 to join the army.
In a statement on its website, the Duma said the move would allow the Russian army to m make is of the skills of older professionals.
They said: “For the use of high-precision weapons, the operation of weapons and military equipment, highly professional specialists are needed.
READ MORE: Dog abandoned by Russian soldiers swaps sides, learns Ukrainian orders
Fighters from the Wagner group, who are operating in Ukraine, said the army needed between 600,000 to 800,000 soldiers to win the war.
Writing on a Telegram Channel, one Wagner mercenary said: “I don’t care what Volodin (a Russian politician) said.
“Either we have mobilisation or we lose the war. To defeat Ukraine we need 600-800,000 troops.
“Whoever says in modern warfare you don’t need a lot of people is a fool.
“No matter how many high-precision weapons you may possess, it’s only the infantry that advances.”