Putin using convicts as soldiers in Ukraine in ‘desperate’ attempt to project strength

Ukraine: Russian military losses discussed by Gardner

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The Russian President is deploying convicts to fight in the Ukraine war to compensate for his army’s heavy death toll. Moscow’s military recruiters are now visiting prisons after some 45,000 Russians have been killed, according to Ukraine. Inmates are promised freedom and hugely inflated salaries if they agree to head to the frontline. Russia’s use of conscripts in the war is “a sign of desperation for sure”, according to military expert Dr John Callahan of New England College.

The former diplomat and US State Department official, who is now a military adviser, has analysed the war in Ukraine for Express.co.uk.

The expert questioned both the safety and efficacy of Russia deploying criminals in the war in Ukraine.

He said: “Do the Russians near the frontlines want actual convicts running around? Because that is not going to be a good look.

“The convicts are convicts. When they go raping and pillaging through another Ukrainian town, and it gets all over the world news, do they want that?

“But the other thing is, they are going to suck. They are not going to be well trained. They are going to be very poorly motivated.

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“OK, go ahead and do that. But what are you actually getting for the money and time that you are spending? I think it is dubious.”

Multiple reports have documented the Russian military’s recruitment from prisons during the conflict and the rewards – including freedom and cash – that convicts are promised if they agree to fight in Ukraine.

CNN spoke to a Russian inmate about the conditions offered by private military contractors, who visited the prison he is held in.

He revealed the salaries, and what type of criminals are being selected, during the interview from his jail cell, which was conducted on a smuggled phone.

Remaining anonymous, he said: “They will accept murderers, but not rapists, paedophiles, extremists, or terrorists.

“Amnesty or a pardon in six months is on offer. Somebody talks about 100,000 rubles a month, another 200,000. Everything is different.”

A monthly salary of 200,000 rubles works out at around £2,830, a figure that is consistent with other reports.

A BBC News article this week cited a top-end monthly salary of £4,700 for convicts who sign up.

The offers of cash and freedom are said to be attracting swathes of inmates from across Russia to fight in Ukraine.

The prisoner who spoke to CNN said he knew of around 400 men who had applied, and claimed that the recruiters did not insist on military experience.

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Convicts from that prison were reportedly first quarantined before being sent on for training in Russia’s southern Rostov region, which borders Ukraine.

At the same time as prisoners are signing up for the war, hundreds of Russian soldiers who have been fighting for the last six months are reportedly also seeking to leave the battlefield.

Amid continued Ukrainian pressure, Dr Callahan said he believed Putin is currently seeking to “regroup” his troops.

He told Express.co.uk: “They are desperately trying to freeze the conflict now, so they can regroup, to get the Ukrainians to stop, so that they can readjust, reassess and reorganise to get ready for another round.”

He added: “Of course, the Ukrainians won’t let them do that and the Ukrainians are getting better and better at manoeuvre warfare.

“One, because they are getting more experienced, but two, because they are getting the gear to do it.

“You see them getting better at shifting the focus to different parts of the front.”

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