Russia has struggled to maintain discipline in its army during the whole war in Ukraine, but its issues "have highly likely worsened" since October 2022 following the first wave of mobilization, U.K. Defense Ministry reported on May 24.
According to independent Russian journalists, cited by the ministry, from January to May 2023, Russian military courts heard 1,053 cases of personnel going absent without leave (AWOL) - more than in all of 2022.
Court records show that most of those found guilty of going AWOL are currently serving suspended sentences, meaning they could be redeployed to Ukraine's front lines, the ministry wrote in its latest intelligence update.
"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," reads the update.
The Russian service of RFE/RL reported on March 15 that Russia's Defense Ministry would start a new recruitment campaign on April 1, aiming to conclude contracts with 400,000 professional soldiers.
The Kremlin has denied launching a second wave of mobilization, but there were reports that military enlistment offices had begun sending summonses to men in Russian cities.