WASHINGTON — The United States has determined that Russia is suffering from “serious manpower shortages” in its six-month war with Ukraine and has become more desperate in its efforts to find new troops to send to the front lines, according to a new American intelligence discovery leaked Wednesday.
Russia is seeking to address the troop shortage by forcing soldiers injured earlier in the war back into combat, recruiting personnel from private security companies and even recruiting from prisons, according to a US official who spoke with the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss the discovery of declassified intelligence.
The official added that the intelligence community has determined that one step the Russian Defense Ministry should soon take is to recruit convicted felons to enlist “in exchange for pardons and financial compensation.”
The US government highlighted its discovery as Russian President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the Russian military to increase troop numbers by 137,000 to a total of 1.15 million.
Putin’s decree, which takes effect Jan. 1, did not specify whether the military would bolster its ranks by recruiting more conscripts, increasing the number of volunteer soldiers, or using a combination of the two. But some Russian military analysts have predicted it will rely heavily on volunteers, a cautious stance reflecting Kremlin concerns about the possible fallout from an attempt to increase the draft.
The presidential decree aims to bring the total number of Russian military personnel to 2,039,758, including 1,150,628 soldiers. A previous order put military strength at 1,902,758 and 1,013,628, respectively, at the start of 2018.
Colin Kahl, the US Department of Defense’s undersecretary for policy, told reporters earlier in August that the United States believed Russia had suffered heavy losses in the early months of the war.
“There’s a lot of fog in the war, but I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians probably had 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months,” Kahl said. “Now it’s a combination of killed in action and wounded in action and that number could be a bit lower, a bit higher, but I think it’s a bit in the ballpark.”
The United States has frequently downgraded and exposed intelligence findings during the bitter war to highlight plans for Russian disinformation operations or to draw attention to Moscow’s difficulties in continuing its war against Russia. Ukraine, whose small army put up fierce resistance to military superiority. Russian forces.
The Biden administration released findings earlier this week that Russia encountered technical problems with Iranian-made drones acquired from Tehran this month for use in its war with Ukraine.
Russia recovered Mohajer-6 and Shahed series unmanned aerial vehicles for several days this month in what the Biden administration says is likely part of a Russian plan to acquire hundreds of Iranian drones for use in Ukraine.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that Russia was experiencing “some difficulties” and “experienced the limits of some of the capabilities” of Iranian drones since they received them.
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