President Vladimir Putin is said to be lining up a second wave of conscriptions to add up to 500,000 fighters to his forces in Ukraine.
While the Kremlin has so far failed to confirm it has plans to enlist more conscripts, there are signs officials are gearing up to train more men for the battlefield.
There were several reports that authorities last week discreetly closed a loophole that allowed men of fighting age to avoid conscription if they had three or more children.
Nina Ostanina, deputy of State Duma, cited the deputy of Russia’s Human Rights Council when she said fathers-of-three were no longer exempt from mobilisation.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the rule had been scrapped, saying he was “not aware” of any change.
Thousands of Russians fled the country in September after Mr Putin announced the mobilisation of 300,000 reservists.
As the war in Ukraine drags on with no peace deal in sight, Kyiv has for weeks been warning of Moscow’s plans to enlist up to 500,000 more troops to replenish its ranks.
The Telegraph cited reports from various Russian regions that suggested military commissars had been ordered to create lists of men of fighting age, and factory managers had been asked which workers they could spare for the army.
'Moscow will struggle to expand military'
UK intelligence suggested Russia would “struggle to staff and equip” its army to meet expansion goals recently announced by Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.
In a statement released on Sunday, the UK’s Ministry of Defence touched on Mr Shoigu’s vision to create major structural changes to the Russian military.
The plan announced last Tuesday includes an increase of 1.5 million personnel in the army — up by 11 per cent on top of the previously announced expansion of 1.35 million.
“Shoigu also announced the re-establishment of Moscow and Leningrad military districts, a partial return to the Soviet era organisation of forces in Western Russia,” the MoD said. “A new army corps is to be established in Karelia, near the Finnish border.
“Shoigu’s plans signal that the Russian leadership highly likely assesses that an enhanced conventional military threat will endure for many years beyond the current Ukraine war.
“However, Russia will highly likely struggle to staff and equip the planned expansion.”
Meanwhile, the debate on whether German-made Leopard 2 tanks should be donated to Ukraine continues after a Friday meeting between decision makers failed to reach a breakthrough.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Sunday said he would like “nothing more” than to see Germany equip Ukrainian fighters with the state-of-the art tanks. But he stopped short of criticising Berlin, instead praising it for the support it has offered to Kyiv so far.
His comments came as Boris Johnson undertook his first visit to Ukraine since stepping down as UK prime minister in September. After being greeted by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv he pledged to “do whatever I can” to help the country win the war against Russia's invading forces.
Tamila Tasheva, a Ukrainian politician serving as the permanent representative of the President of Ukraine in Crimea, said more weapons from the West were needed to help her country win the war.
She told Sky News that nine years after the territory was annexed by Russia it could still be liberated by Ukrainian fighters.
She said while the first step is to return the Black Sea peninsula to Ukrainian control, “we must be ready to reintegrate our territory after our victory”.
Some analysts have suggested Ukraine could give up its claims to previously-held territories such as Crimea in a bid to strike a peace deal with Russia.
Deputy minister sacked over bribery allegations
The Ukrainian Cabinet dismissed Vasyl Lozynskiy over allegations of accepting a bribe, it was revealed on Sunday.
Mr Lozynskiy, who was the deputy minister of infrastructure and communities development, is alleged to have been given $400,000 for rigging a large procurement tender for generators and other equipment, according to the Kyiv Independent, citing police.
His sacking followed questioning by the country's National Anti-Corruption Bureau on suspicion of embezzlement, the Infrastructure Ministry said.
The bureau said the politician, who had held office since May 2020, had “received [$400,000] to facilitate the conclusion of contracts for the purchase of equipment and generators at inflated prices”.
Ukraine is facing electricity shortages after Russian bombarded its energy infrastructure.