Vladimir Putin is now forcing dangerous Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine, it has been reported.

The Russian President is using blackmail and threats to persuade lags to join his country's forces, with severe punishments for those who refuse – including crippling beatings and longer sentences.

Russia's prison population was reduced by 23,000 in just two months as the Kremlin desperately tries to fill huge gaps on its front lines.

READ MORE: Putin could unleash deadly Novichok nerve agent to poison Ukrainians into surrender

Convicts were previously offered freedom deals if they joined the invasion, but the notorious Wagner Group of mercenaries has switched to more brutal recruitment tactics.

Those refusing to fight have been left unable to walk or have disappeared, while those recruited are likely to die very soon after joining the front line due to poor training and lack of equipment.

The recruitment drive was pushed in extremely remote detention centres in Siberia and Russia's Far East including in Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Norilsk inside the Arctic Circle and Yakutia.

Recruiters aim to take 150 to 200 from each jail, targeting those who have committed the most serious crimes.

A source told the Daily Mirror: “According to information gathered from what is being said by relatives it is impossible to refuse, as if prisoners do they might disappear.

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"Some prisoners have been beaten so badly they are unable to walk and are likely to then be given extended sentences and face a terrible choice.

“On the front line many are simply cannon fodder – shot if they retreat and likely killed if they advance. So they are done for, whatever they choose.”

All communications have been blocked, stopping any contact with anyone in the outside world, with their prison camps so isolated that it's easier for them to be wiped from the records.

Some families have been lied to by officials claiming they have to impose a sudden quarantine, meaning relatives cannot see the prisoner.

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