Russia is planning to expand its forces by offering “lucrative” cash bonuses to volunteers once they head to fight in Ukraine, said the British Ministry of Defence.
The ministry tweeted an intelligence briefing on Wednesday saying that Russia has “almost certainly” formed new ground forces to fight in Ukraine, identified as 3rd Army Corps (3 AC), based out of Mulino in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast east of Moscow.
“Russia likely plans to resource a large proportion of 3 AC from newly formed ‘volunteer’ battalions, which are being raised across the country, and which group together recruits from the same areas,” the ministry added in its briefing. “Russian regional politicians have confirmed that potential 3 AC recruits are being offered lucrative cash bonuses once they deploy to Ukraine.”
The ministry also added that recruitment is open to men up to 50 years old and with only middle-school education. However, U.K. officials are skeptical about Russia’s new troops because of the lack of enthusiasm to fight in Ukraine, adding that “3 AC’s effect is unlikely to be decisive to the campaign.”
“A Russian army corps typically consists of 15-20,000 troops, but it will probably be difficult for Russia to bring 3 AC up to this strength, given very limited levels of popular enthusiasm for volunteering for combat in Ukraine,” officials said.
Still, Russian commanders are likely to face competing operational priorities of reinforcing the Donbas offensive and strengthening forces against potential Ukrainian counterattacks in the south, according to the British defense ministry.
On Saturday, the ministry said that Russian Battalion Tactical Groups of up to 1,000 troops are heading to Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014. The troops are expected to support Russian forces in the Kherson region, where Ukraine is carrying out a counteroffensive. The region fell to Russia soon after the invasion began.
Still, U.K. officials said that Russia is not achieving its goals in Ukraine. On Sunday, the British Ministry of Defence said that at least six Russian commanders were fired following “poor performance” in the war in Ukraine.
“The poor performance of Russia’s armed forces during its invasion of Ukraine has been costly for Russia’s military leadership, highly likely resulting in the dismissal of at least six Russian commanders since the start of hostilities in February 2022,” the ministry tweeted at the time.
U.K. Defense Chief Tony Radakin said last month that Russia is facing a challenge in matching troops to equipment as the military suffers from low morale and recruitment struggles. In June, Radakin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has already “strategically lost” the war in Ukraine, adding that Russia might see more “tactical successes” in the coming weeks; however, the Russian military is not progressing enough to take over Ukraine.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian defense ministry for comment.
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