More than 130 days after Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” against Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry appears to be counting on prison inmates and shipyard workers to serve as new cannon fodder.
A desperate new recruitment drive has been reported in Saint Petersburg, where families of prisoners in two prisons say the Wagner Group — a private Russian military force linked to the Kremlin — is offering prisoners cash and a jail-free ticket to go “in search of Nazis” in Ukraine, according to the outlet. Russian independent news Stories.
“They said to my relative, ‘It is very difficult to find the Nazis there, and they are well prepared. You will be at the forefront of helping uncover the Nazis, so not everyone will return. At first they said about 20 percent would come back. Then this “almost no one will come back”. Those who survived were promised 200,000 rubles and an amnesty. And if someone dies, they promise to pay 5 million rubles to their families. This is all in words only, nothing fixed on paper,” an unnamed relative of an inmate told the outlet.
The relative said that at least 40 inmates had registered to join the war at that prison. The prisoners, after being urged to “defend the motherland”, were reportedly told that it would look as if they had been transferred, but that they would be lowered at the border with Ukraine.
“Wagner is recruiting people. No one is hiding it. [prison foremen] The prisoner’s relative said.
Family members of another prisoner who agreed to join the war told iStories that he did so because he truly believed his conviction would be crossed out and released upon his return. But the recruits didn’t seem to really expect any of the prisoners to come back to life again: Relatives of an inmate in a separate prison said the men were told they would be sent to war without any identification documents.
Workers at Saint Petersburg shipyards operated by the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation and Metalloinvest headed by Alisher Usmanov were also reported to have been targeted as part of a recruitment drive by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Moscow Times‘Russian Service’ mentioned On Tuesday, workers at the Admiralty and Baltic shipyards were offered contracts with a monthly salary of 300,000 rubles ($5,300) to go to fight in Ukraine.
“They showed it to those with good experience, and age has nothing to do with it. For example, they gave a summons notice to an older employee who fought the second Chechen war,” one employee told times.
Similar efforts were described by workers at the Lebedinsky mining and processing business in Belgorod, owned by Usmanov’s Metalloinvest company, although the company denied this.