The United States believes that Russia is facing "severe" shortages of military personnel in Ukraine and is seeking new ways to increase its troop levels, two US officials told CNN.
"The Russian military is suffering from severe manning shortages in Ukraine. We believe that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) is seeking to recruit contract service members to make up for these personnel shortages, including by compelling wounded soldiers to reenter combat, acquiring personnel from private security companies, and paying bonuses to conscripts," a US official told CNN.
The latest US assessment is based on downgraded intelligence and confirmed to CNN by two US officials. It is the latest effort by the Biden administration to downgrade and publicly release intelligence findings about Russia's war effort.
The officials also said that the US has "credible reporting" that Russia's Defense Ministry is "likely to begin" recruiting convicted criminals in Ukraine "in exchange for pardons and financial compensation."
As with previous releases of downgraded intelligence, the officials did not provide additional details about the intelligence behind these assessments.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the military to increase the number of troops by 137,000, though it was not clear how the Russian Defense Ministry intended to reach that target.
The Pentagon estimated earlier this month that as many as 80,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded during the war in Ukraine.