Putin enlists convicted murderers and former military spies jailed for war in Ukraine as Russia ramps up prison recruitment in desperate bid to bolster frontline forces
- Russia turned to recruiting detainees to fight in Ukraine – including murderers
- Vladimir Putin has suffered huge losses in his army since his invasion in February
- Prisoners have been promised £3,000 and an amnesty for fighting in the war
- They would have joined the group of Wegner mercenaries fighting in the Donbass
Vladimir Putin is recruiting convicted murderers and jailed spies to fight on the front lines of his war in Ukraine, we have learned.
Russia is recruiting from prisons in several regions of the country.
Among those recruited are jailed former military intelligence officers and other former special forces personnel with prior military service.
Earlier in the war, prisoners serving sentences for the most serious crimes were fired from the Russian military, but there are now reports of murderers being recruited as Putin seeks more frontline soldiers.
In some prisons, hundreds of inmates would be ready to enlist on the promise of amnesty.
Hundreds of prisoners at this prison in Bor, east of Moscow, volunteered to fight in the war
Vladimir Putin turned to recruiting prisoners to help his invasion of Ukraine after suffering huge losses during the war
Detainees promised amnesty for their crimes after six months of military service in Ukraine
Members of the Wagner mercenary group in eastern Ukraine – which prisoners who volunteered to fight in the invasion are believed to have joined
Still, the recruiting drive is seen as a sign that Putin lacks frontline-ready troops despite having a million-strong army.
Convicts are screened and then undergo two weeks of training before being airlifted to the war zone and placed in “assault groups” on the front line by Wagner, a private military company, working closely with the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Some were chosen by the leaders of the penal colonies,” a source told Russian opposition channel SOTA.
“They were taken out of prison camp jobs, against their will, and ‘invited’ to chat.
Prisoners in two St. Petersburg prisons were also offered money and their freedom if they agreed to fight in Ukraine
Prisoners should be sent to the frontline of the conflict in eastern Ukraine
“These were former war service participants or people with reasonably higher military ranks.
“Others were simply told by a duty officer ‘Anyone who wants to go to war, go present your name’.
A relative: “They explain it by their desire to be granted amnesty and to live normally after their return, for the good of their families and their children.”
At least one convicted murderer is known to have been sent to the Donbass region to fight, with the promise of having his sentence quashed after six months if he fights.
Prisoners are also promised just under £3,000 to fight in the war, with £64,000 sent to loved ones if killed.
The FSB security service – once headed by Putin – is believed to be involved in the scheme.