Russia’s military is forcibly recruiting convicts into assault units in occupied Luhansk due to a lack of volunteers, according to reports, though anyone with the money can bribe their way out of serving.

Artem Lysohor, the Ukrainian head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said the Kremlin’s previous recruitment methods were “ceasing to bring fruit” and authorities are now having to force people to join Storm Z units.

“They replenish their reserves not only in Russia but also in penal colonies across the so-called ‘LPR’ (Luhansk People’s Republic), including in Sukhodolsk,” he said in a post on Facebook.

Lysohor also said those who have money can “buy” their freedom, adding: “So much for the law and order of the Russian world.”

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The official also described some of the living conditions in Luhansk, saying that communal heating in some cities is yet to be turned on despite the winter temperatures.

“Almost 2,5 months have passed from the beginning of the heating period, and in Severodonetsk all has been heard are promises,” he said.

“In the past weeks alone, there has been show-off renovations that look like they will be completed with December's budget costs.”

Earlier this month it was announced Luhansk would be one of four regions “annexed” by Moscow last year in which voting for the Russian presidential election would be held in 2024.

Russia Lacks Resource for Major Ukraine Offensive: NATO Official
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Russia Lacks Resource for Major Ukraine Offensive: NATO Official

A NATO official said Russia is suffering heavy losses in Ukraine and does not possess the troops and weapons required to launch a major offensive.

The Central Elections Commission said voting in March would go ahead in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – regions of Ukraine over which Russia still does not have full military control.

“The decision was adopted unanimously,” commission vice-president Nikolay Bulayev said, according to the state-run news agency TASS.

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