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UK Defense Ministry: Russia likely recruited 10,000 convicts for Ukraine war in April

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 11, 2023 10:46 AM 1 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

Since the beginning of 2023, the Russian Defense Ministry has stepped up its scheme of recruiting Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine, with up to 10,000 convicts signing up in April, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on May 11.

“The MoD’s prisoner recruitment campaign is part of a broader, intense effort by the Russian military to bolster its numbers while attempting to avoid implementing new mandatory mobilization, which would be very unpopular with the Russian public,” the ministry wrote in its latest intelligence update.

From last summer, prisoners were the main source of recruits for Russia’s private mercenary Wagner Group, reads the update.

However, the group most likely lost access to the Russian penitentiary system in February 2023 amid its escalating conflict with the Russian Defense Ministry, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry.

​​Reuters wrote in its January investigation that Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin had motivated prisoners, including contract killers, murderers, career criminals, and people with alcohol issues, by promising they would be free if they survived half a year on the Ukraine front.

Ukraine and international observers have reported extremely heavy casualties among the Russian forces, including the Wagner members in Donetsk Oblast.

On March 25, Prigozhin claimed that more than 5,000 Russian prisoners who fought in Ukraine were offered amnesty.

Wagner a ‘shadow of what it once was’: Russia security expert on the rage of mercenary boss Prigozhin
After seeming to have calmed down over early spring, the internal conflict between Wagner mercenary group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Defense Ministry has escalated dramatically. In the early morning of May 5, Prigozhin recorded a video in front of what he claimed to be the bodies of doz…

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