Wagner Group recruiting mercenaries in Russian schools

Wagner Group recruiting mercenaries in Russian schools

Members of Russia’s notorious Wagner mercenary group are giving “career talks” in schools as part of a recruitment drive to sign up fresh fighters after devastating losses in Ukraine, according to UK defense officials.

The British Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update Monday that in recent days, masked Wagner recruiters visited several high schools in Moscow to talk to students and distribute questionnaires, titled “Application of a Young Warrior,” to collect their contact information.

It comes after Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin announced last week that he has opened 42 outreach centers across Russia to replenish the ranks of his private army, which have been depleted by bloody battles for the control of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine — a city dubbed a “meat grinder” by both sides due to the intensity of the fighting there.

Wagner fighters in Praskoviyivka, Bakhmut region.
Members of the Wagner mercenary group have reportedly visited schools in Moscow as part of a recruitment drive.

PMC Wagner mercenaries pose at Popasna, the Sievierodonetsk district  of the Luhansk Oblast, eastern Ukraine
Russia’s private army is seeking to replenish its ranks after suffering heavy losses during months of fierce fighting in Bakhmut.
social media/e2w

Wagner had recruited reportedly up to 40,000 convicts from Russia’s prisons, with Prigozhin offering them a pardon if they survived six months on the battlefields of Ukraine.

In early February, Prigozhin, a catering mogul and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that the recruitment of inmates has stopped.

The British intelligence community said Monday that “about half of the prisoners Wagner has already deployed in Ukraine have likely become casualties and the new initiatives are unlikely to make up for the loss of the convict recruit pipeline.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin (C) with fighters of the Wagner group.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, center, founder of Wagner Group, has opened 42 recruitment centers throughout Russia.

Wagner Group forces have led the charge to capture Bakhmut and have been able to seize much of the eastern part of the decimated city, but at an enormous cost in lives. Kyiv’s troops remain in control of western Bakhmut and are repelling enemy attacks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces had suffered more than 1,100 dead in the past few days fighting in and around Bakhmut.

In a desperate bid to bolster its forces fighting in Ukraine, Russia is now reportedly recruiting and deploying female convicts to the war zone.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a daily update Monday that “the enemy uses alternative sources of replenishment of manpower.”

Women's correctional colony, the city of Snezhnoye,
The Ukrainian military said that a Russian train carrying female inmates was detected moving towards the Dontesk region last week.
social media / East2west News

According to the military, last week a Russian train with multiple cars reserved for the transportation of prisoners was detected moving toward the Donetsk region.

“One of the wagons contained convicted women,” the bulletin claimed.

Olga Romanova, head of the civil rights organization Russia Behind Bars, confirmed reports that female prisoners have been recruited for the war effort by the Ministry of Defense.

In an interview with the independent Russian news outlet CurrentTime.tv, Romanova said that approximately 100 women were apparently shipped off to Ukraine from penal colonies in Russia’s Krasnodarskiy Kray following a month-long training.

Romanova said she believes the female inmates were sent to Donetsk “for one-time use in storming brigades.”

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