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Seven Russian servicemen who were formerly inmates have deserted near Soledar in Donetsk Oblast, Russian state news agency TASS and Baza, a Russian Telegram news channel, reported on May 27, citing their sources.
They reportedly took their weapons with them.
Three of the soldiers were later captured by Russian forces in occupied Luhansk Oblast, while they were drinking alcohol in a cafe.
Later, two more men were reportedly detained.
The Baza Telegram channel wrote that the deserters may have fled on vehicles with Ukrainian license plates.
The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces reported that a total of about 20 Russian fighters recruited from prisons fled their positions in the area on May 25.
Facing personnel issues, Russia began recruiting men from its prison system in 2022.
Wagner Group recruited tens of thousands of convicts, who endured extreme casualties in the attack on Bakhmut.
Wagner was later denied access to prison recruitment, as Russia's Defense Ministry began absorbing convicted fighters instead.