Vladimir Putin has ordered Russia’s military to expand with another 137,000 personnel starting from next year.
Moscow has not revealed any losses in the conflict since the first weeks, but Western officials and the Kyiv government believe the number is in the thousands.
The Russian president signed a decree on Thursday, but it didn’t explain how the military will beef up its ranks and whether this would be through more conscriptions, more volunteer soldiers or a combination of both.
The Kremlin said online volunteer contract soldiers participate in the “special military operation” in Ukraine, denying claims that it was thinking of a broad mobilisation.
According to Professor Michael Clarke, unless a “war” is declared by Russia in Ukraine then conscription is not permitted.
Prof Clarke, former director-general of the Royal United Services Institute, said: “Then there is a fair amount of mutiny at the front lines. But that will not stop the offensive in itself.
“Russia is now offering big amounts (three to four times the average monthly salary) for young men to take the military contract and serve for as little as six months, with virtually no training.
“Desperate stuff, but Russia will keep feeding young men into the war. Many of them will die with bulging bank accounts back home.”
Mr Putin’s decree aims to increase the number of military personnel to 1,1,50,628, which will come into effect on 1 January.
In November 2017, Mr Putin fixed the size of the number of combat personnel in Russia’s army to 1.01 million from a total armed forces headcount, including non-combatants, of 1.9 million.
Dozens killed on Independence Day
Wednesday marked 31 years since it gained independence from the Soviet Union, a date that fell on the same day as the six-month point of Russia’s invasion.
Ukraine had been bracing for heavy attacks during the day, and a rocket attack in the town of Chaplyne killed 25 people at a train station.
In the occupied city of Melitopol, in the southeast, the mayor said resistance forces have “blown up” a building which was being used by Russian-back officials in the village of Pryazovsko, which is just outside the city.
Ivan Fedorov posted a video on his Telegram channel said to show damage to the building, which was apparently being used for issuing Russian passports and to prepare for “voting” in a “pseudo-referendum”.
The vote is being planned as a way to incorporate the region into Russia.
Mr Fedorov also claimed on Thursday that Russia had cut off electricity in nearly all the captured areas of the Zaporizhzhia region and said people were now without power, as well as water and gas.