KYIV -- Russia's military is trying to make up for shortfalls of manpower and equipment as Moscow's invasion of Ukraine enters its seventh month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday (August 25) signed a decree to increase the headcount of the country's army.
Russia's army will have more than two million members, including 1.15 million servicemen, starting in January, according to the decree published on a government portal.
Putin last set the army headcount in 2017 at about 1.9 million with 1.01 million soldiers.
While the decree does not outline the reasons for the increase, it comes as Moscow's troops are focused on capturing territories in eastern Ukraine.
A senior US official estimated August 8 that as many as 80,000 Russians have been killed or wounded in Ukraine since the war began in late February.
"The Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months," US Under Secretary of Defence Colin Kahl said.
Estimates of Russian casualties have varied. According to the latest Ukrainian military update, about 47,100 Russian troops have been killed since the start of the war.
Russia has given an official death toll only on two occasions, the last on March 25, when it said 1,351 troops had been killed, which analysts consider far too low.
'Fits of desperation'
To replace its losses, the Kremlin has been using new tactics to attract army recruits, including advertising on public utility bills, recruiting in prisons, and using mercenaries and private military companies to lure Central Asian migrants.
For example, in late July, the Main Directorate of Intelligence (CDI) of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry reported on its Telegram channel that Moscow's administration was putting together the so-called Mayoral Regiment made up of citizens of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
"To attract them, Russia is offering high salaries and the opportunity to receive Russian citizenship," the report read.
Part of the problem is that Russians themselves are unwilling to fight in Putin's war of choice.
"We live in St. Petersburg, and a lot of my friends just took their sons away from here," said Anna Rapoport, a mother of three sons -- the oldest of whom will soon reach draft age.
"There aren't many people who want to go fight. Those who have to go dodge or they just don't show up at the draft bureaus," she said.
"Many people around here are saying that the army has started accepting prison inmates," Rapoport said. "In the past that wasn't allowed, but now it seems that prisoners have been accepted. Whoever wants to go into the army is released from his sentence and allowed to go."
"Russia definitely doesn't have enough resources. These are just fits of desperation," she said.
"If a full mobilisation is called, it's not clear how everything will end," she said. "I think there will be protests, the government could collapse and there could be upheaval."
Russian forces have also lost "three or four thousand" armoured vehicles and could be running low on available precision-guided missiles, including air and sea-launched cruise missiles, after firing a large number at Ukrainian targets, according to Kahl of the US Defence Department.
Russia has been forced to launch a clandestine "industrial mobilisation" of defence companies, the Ukrainian CDI said on its website August 12.
As part of the move, Moscow has banned the management and employees of Rostec, which fulfils up to 40% of Russia's defence contracts, from taking vacation.
"It is expected that similar measures will be introduced in other defence enterprises," the directorate's statement read.
Russia's Military-Industrial Commission, which is headed by Putin, is planning to increase expenditures by 600-700 billion RUB (around $10 billion) in the defence contract programme.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu this month was reported to be visiting defence companies, a sign "that the Kremlin is attempting to restart or expand the operation of the military-industrial complex", the Institute for the Study of War noted on August 12.
Analysts are sceptical of Russia's attempts to revive its military-industrial complex.
"Their putting their industry on a war footing is comical," said Alexander Kovalenko, a military analyst for the website InfoResist. "Shoigu reports every year that they've made such-and-such quantity of new T-90 tanks. But they're not actually new; they're just modernised."
"The most they can do is take old Soviet equipment out of storage, get it into more or less normal condition and send it to the front," he said.
"Rostec does only one thing well: siphon off the Russian budget," he added. "It doesn't innovate in any way. In essence, right now all of this is just pretend action: they're just writing, showing off and threatening that they have weapons."
"Their T-62 tanks are from 1965. Even now Russia is using those tanks. You can see them in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces -- wherever the Russians are fighting."
"They're even fighting with howitzers that were considered old after World War II. They can't make a new one, but even if they do, it won't be good at all," Kovalenko said.
The main problem Russia's defence industry has encountered is Western sanctions, which have cut it off from crucial components and microcircuits.
The Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone is one example, according to Petro Chernik, a military analyst.
"The motor is Japanese, and the internal hardware is American and German. All of that is now targeted by the sanctions," he said.
"Russia doesn't have any winning options. It has extensive resources, but they're really inferior. That's why I'm sure that in the future Ukraine will win while Russia will collapse -- just like all empires, for that matter," Chernik said.