The Russian military has seen a staggering number of soldiers going absent without leave (AWOL) in 2023, according to the latest intelligence update from the UK's Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Research by independent Russian journalists suggests that between January and May 2023, Russian military courts dealt with 1,053 cases of AWOL, surpassing the total number of cases recorded throughout the whole of 2022.
The MOD intelligence report said: "Russia's military has struggled to enforce discipline in its ranks throughout its operations in Ukraine, but its issues have highly likely worsened following the forced mobilisation of reservists since October 2022."
- Watch: Drone captures incredible moment Russian soldier 'surrenders' to Ukrainian forces
- What we know about the attacks in Russia's Belgorod
- Russia to form an 'elite' attack aviation group consisting of supersonic bomber jets
According to court data, soldiers found guilty of going AWOL are receiving suspended sentences and can be deployed back to the frontline.
Recently aerial footage released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence showed the moment a suspected Russian soldier surrendered.
The minute-long video shows a drone leading the Russian soldier to surrender while he appears to come under heavy fire suspected to come from the Russian side.
"Russia's efforts to improve discipline have focused on making examples of defaulters, and promoting patriotic zeal, rather than addressing the root causes of soldiers’ disillusionment," the MOD intelligence report said.
Apart from forced mobilisation, Russia has been employing targeted recruitment campaigns to fill its ranks, calling on its male population to be "real men" by joining the forces, while advertising large monetary incentives.
For signing up as a 'contract soldier' a recent Russian advert promises a monthly starting salary starting from 204,000 roubles (£2,010), which is more than double the average salary in Russia – around £600.