Wagner Group seeing drop in its convict recruitment program, says UK intelligence

3 February, 02:36 PM
According to British intelligence, the recruitment of prisoners to Wagner's group has slowed significantly (Photo:REUTERS/Igor Russak)

According to British intelligence, the recruitment of prisoners to Wagner's group has slowed significantly (Photo:REUTERS/Igor Russak)

The scale of Russian Wagner mercenary group’s convict recruitment program is likely to have been significantly reduced from its peak betweenthe summer and autumn of 2022, the UK’s Ministry of Defense wrote on Twitter on Feb. 3.

According to UK intelligence, the Russian Federal Penal Service (FSIN) figures released on Jan. 31, 2023 reported a national penal population of 433,000, suggesting a decrease of 6,000 inmates since November 2022.

In contrast, FSIN data had indicated a decrease of 23,000 from September to November 2022.

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The MoD noted that Wagner recruitment was likely a major contributing factor to this drop.

“Separately, anecdotal evidence from Ukrainian combatants over the last 10 days suggests a reduced Russian reliance on human wave style assaults by Wagner convict fighters in key sectors,” the ministry said in its daily summary.

“Significant tensions between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defense are playing out in public; competition between factions in the Russian elite is likely to be partially responsible for the reduced supply of convicts.”

Olga Romanova, the head of the Rus Foundation, said on Jan. 22 that of the 50,000 Russian prisoners recruited by the Kremlin-approved Wagner Group PMC to participate in a full-scale war against Ukraine, only 10,000 remain.

“... According to our data, 42,000 to 43,000 (prisoners) were recruited by the end of December,” Romanova said.

“Now, most likely, there are more than 50,000 of them. Ten thousand of them are fighting at the front, because all the rest have either been killed,or (wounded), or have disappeared, or deserted, or surrendered.”

According to Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, the Wagner Group press-ganged 38,244 Russian prisoners in total in order to use them in the full-scale war against Ukraine. As of mid-January, according to his data, 29,543 of them had already been killed, wounded, disappeared, or captured.

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