Russia’s Wagner Group halts prisoner recruitment campaign

9 February, 02:43 PM
Russia’s Wagner Group halts prisoner recruitment campaign, claims Prigozhin (Photo:REUTERS/Igor Russak)

Russia’s Wagner Group halts prisoner recruitment campaign, claims Prigozhin (Photo:REUTERS/Igor Russak)

The Russian Wagner mercenary company claims it has stopped recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin’s press service reported via Telegram messenger on Feb. 9.

When asked by Russian propaganda media to comment, Prigozhin said that “the recruitment of prisoners by the Wagner private military company has completely stopped,” without giving the reasons for such a decision.

“We are fulfilling all our obligations to those who work for us now,” he said.

It became known in the summer of 2022 that Wagner had begun to recruit Russian prisoners to participate in Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. In October, Russian publication Vazhnye Istorii wrote that the Ministry of Defense of Russia is also engaged in recruitment.

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Meanwhile, according to Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, the Wagner mercenaries press-ganged 38,244 prisoners in order to use them in the full-scale war against Ukraine. As of mid-January, 29,543 of them had already been neutralized.

According to Olga Romanova, head of the non-governmental organization Russia Behind Bars, only 10,000 out of the 50,000 Russian prisoners recruited by Kremlin’s Wagner Group to participate in a full-scale war against Ukraine have continued to serve, while the rest have been killed, wounded, missing, surrendered, or deserted.

On Jan. 26, the United States recognized Wagner as a transnational criminal organization. A few days later, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, made a similar recognition.

On Feb. 3, British intelligence said that the role of the prisoners and Wagner PMC in the war against Ukraine has declined.

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