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Meanwhile, Western officials have suggested that mass mobilisation is “about to happen” in Russia, although the Kremlin is “concerned” because this would effectively be an “admission of failure” in what was intended to be a quick, clean operation in Ukraine and has instead turned into a slow and grinding conflict.

Because Moscow also fears that country-wide mobilisation could stoke unrest in Russian cities, it is attempting to increase the pool of fighters by “doing very significant recruitment” in poor areas and raising the age limit for serving.

Officials also said there is “more chatter” about Putin’s health and “more speculation” about who will replace him in Russia, although there is no “immediate threat” to his grip on power.

The Prime Minister’s comments came after he made an unannounced trip to Kyiv for talks with Volodymyr Zelensky, when he told the Ukrainian president that Britain would be prepared to train tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops as they continue to fight back against the Russian offensive in the Donbas.

He said it was important to prevent the Russians “freezing” the conflict so they could consolidate their gains before mounting another attack.