Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putinצילום: Shutterstock

Russian President Vladmir Putin is planning to formally declare war on Ukraine, offering him expanded powers in Russia’s conflict with its western neighbor, US and other Western officials say.

According to a report by CNN Tuesday, Putin could declare war on Ukraine as soon as next Monday.

While Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24th, the conflict has thus far been defined by Russia as a “special military operation”, limiting the scope of resources at Putin’s disposal.

With a formal declaration of war, however, the Russian president will be able to draw upon its pool of reservists, potentially expanding the number of military personnel by as much as two million, from one to three million service members.

"I think he will try to move from his 'special operation,'" British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said last week in an interview with LBC Radio.

"He's been rolling the pitch, laying the ground for being able to say 'look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people. I need more Russian cannon fodder.'"

Western intelligence agencies have estimated Russia’s losses since the February 24th invasion to be at least 7,000 dead, according to NATO, with the US estimating some 10,000 Russian soldiers dead, and the UK putting the number at 15,000.

Wallace said last week that a quarter of Russian combat units deployed to Ukraine have been “rendered not combat effective”, with more than 2,000 armored vehicles and dozens of helicopters lost.