Russia has undertaken a covert recruitment effort that includes using prisoners to make up the manpower shortage in its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia using prisoners as it struggles to replenish its troops in Ukraine
Prisoners at the penal colony in St. Petersburg were expecting a visit by officials, thinking it would be some sort of inspection. Instead, men in uniform arrived and offered them amnesty — if they agreed to fight alongside the Russian army in Ukraine.
Over the following days, about a dozen or so left the prison, according to a woman whose boyfriend is serving a sentence there. Speaking on condition of anonymity because she feared reprisals, she said her boyfriend wasn’t among the volunteers, although with years left on his sentence, he “couldn’t not think about it”.
As Russia continues to suffer losses in its invasion of Ukraine, now nearing its sixth month, the Kremlin has refused to announce a full-blown mobilization — a move that could be very unpopular for President Vladimir Putin. That has led instead to a covert recruitment effort that includes using prisoners to make up the manpower shortage.
This also is happening amid reports that hundreds of Russian soldiers are refusing to fight and trying to quit the military.