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Vladimir Putin’s private military chief has boasted that thousands of criminals conscripted to fight for Russia have become “cannibals”. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the infamous Wagner Group, recently appeared in a video boasting the capabilities of his men. He said that, ahead of their deployment to Ukraine, his intense training is turning enlisted convicts into “real cannibals”.
A recent video released by the group shows Wagner troops training on a dirt field in an undisclosed location.
Prigozhin, standing in the foreground wearing a brown jacket and hat, states the area is a “supplementary training base” for fighters destined for Ukraine.
He is heard saying the most experienced fighters receive “additional training in their specialities” at the location.
He adds that the nature of their training allows army officials to “make real cannibals”.
Prigozhin’s video suggests that Russia is creating bloodthirsty soldiers for deployment over the western border.
Many of those serving in Wagner ranks already come from a hardened background, having entered the militia from prison.
Russian news outlets revealed that Wagner had started recruiting from prisons in mid-2022, with plans to deploy them in the Donbas.
Inmates were offered 2000,000 rubles and amnesty for their crimes after six months of service but were reportedly told that “almost nobody would return”.
Recent reports have suggested that the warning has turned out accurate, with fighting in Soledar having decimated Wagner ranks.
A Russian journalist has reported that only a fifth of the recruited Russian prisoners remain in Ukraine.
Speaking in a YouTube video posted by the My Russian Rights project, Olga Romanova said Prigozhin had recruited between 42,000 and 43,000 prisoners by the end of 2022.
The vast majority of those fighters are now out of action, the Rus Seated charity foundation head said.
Out of approximately 50,000 soldiers “10,000 are fighting at the front”, Ms Romanova predicted.
She said the remaining 40,000 soldiers are “either killed…or missing, or deserted, or surrendered”.
Wagner troops make up a portion of Russia’s presence in Ukraine, with other conscripts entering the country’s national army.
Putin’s “partial mobilisation” order in September last year allowed the government to draft thousands of soldiers from the general population.
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