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Russia tries to recruit troops from unrecognised Transnistria region of Moldova amid losses, MoD says



Vladimir Putin is desperately trying to bolster his forces in Ukraine and is seeking to recruit personnel discharged from military service since 2012 as well as persuade troops from the unrecognised Transnistria region of Moldova to sign up, according to the latest intelligence briefing.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said Russia is trying to bolster its troop numbers in response to mounting military losses.

Nato estimates that Russia has lost between 7,000 to 15,000 troops during the six-week war, while Ukraine puts the toll at 18,600.

In its latest intelligence update, the MoD said: “In response to mounting losses, the Russian armed forces seek to bolster troop numbers with personnel discharged from military service since 2012.

“Efforts to generate more fighting power also include trying to recruit from the unrecognised Transnistria region of Moldova.”

The Kremlin has not given an updated death toll since 25 March, when its Ministry of Defence said 1,351 of its soldiers had been killed in combat. 

But on Thursday Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted Russia has suffered “significant losses of troops” in Ukraine.

While he didn’t give a figure, the rare admission is striking as Moscow has been reluctant to admit high deaths have incurred.

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He told Sky News: “Yes, we have significant losses of troops and it is a huge tragedy for us.”

The estimates of Russian losses are unable to be independently verified – and analysts have cautioned that Russia may be downplaying its casualty rate, while Ukraine could be inflating it to boost morale.

But Western leaders put the figure at between 7,000 to 15,000.

It comes after Boris Johnson made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Saturday, to meet with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky.

During the trip, Mr Johnson said the West would continue to “ratchet up” sanctions on Moscow as he praised the courage of the Ukrainian resistance.

“I think that the Ukrainians have shown the courage of a lion, and you Volodymyr have given the roar of that lion,” he said.

“The UK and others (will) supply the equipment, the technology, the know-how, the intelligence, so that Ukraine will never be invaded again.

“So Ukraine is so fortified and protected – that Ukraine can never be bullied again. Never be blackmailed again. Never be threatened in the same way again.”

Downing Street said Britain would be sending 120 armoured vehicles as well as new anti-ship missile systems.

This is on top of the announcement that a further £100 million worth of kit will be sent to Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry and so-called “suicide drones”, which loiter over the battlefield before attacking their target.

It follows an urgent appeal by the Ukrainians for more weapons – including armoured vehicles – ahead of an expected Russian offensive on the eastern Donbas region, already part held by pro-Moscow separatists.

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