Russia’s Defense Ministry enlists up to 10,000 convicts in April alone, says UK intelligence

11 May, 01:33 PM
Russian military (Photo:REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak)

Russian military (Photo:REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak)

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has recently ramped up a scheme to enlist Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine and it is likely that up to 10,000 convicts signed up in April 2023 alone, the UK’s Ministry of Defense wrote in their regular daily update on Twitter on May 11.

According to UK intelligence, from summer 2022, prisoners were a key pool of recruits for the Wagner Group mercenary company’s operations in Ukraine.

However, the group highly likely lost access to the Russian penal system in February 2023 when its public feud with the MoD was escalating, it said.

“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 stated.

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On May 10, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin announced the call-up of Russian reservists for military training.

The Bloomberg news agency reported on March 24 that Russia plans to recruit another 400,000 contract soldiers amid failed offensive and huge losses among Russian troops. Russia’s previous mobilization drive fell far short of its goal – while Russia claims that it drafted 300,000 soldiers in its 2022 mobilization drive, independent experts estimate that less than half that number was achieved in reality.

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