Russian forces raid empty buildings to find conscripted convicts on the run

Russian forces are having to scour abandoned buildings for soldiers from the notorious Wagner brigade as the convict conscripts do runners to evade justice, Ukraine has said.

Ukrainian officials released an audio intercept on Sunday, February 19, that detailed "significant desertion" among the hardy band of criminals released from jail to fight in Vladimir Putin's "special military operation".

In a report from the Institute for the Study of War, the audio detailed "significant desertion among Wagner Group convict recruits and continued poor operational security among Russian personnel in Ukraine".

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Raids with a focus on abandoned buildings have been focused on the Chaplinsky district of the Kherson region, reports Newsweek.

"Due to the high rates of desertion from the ranks of the Russian occupation forces, massive raids have been conducted in the Chaplinsky district of Kherson region since February 20, 2023," the armed forces said.

Near Vuhledar in the Donetsk region, some 202 Russian soldiers deserted with their weapons, according to a fellow Kremlin fighter who spoke in the recording.

It comes following reports that Mad Vlad is actually considering pulling the Wagner Group from the front lines as the unit has become "too powerful".

The Wagner Group’s founder and head Yevgeny Prigozhin has reportedly stopped recruitment drives and will be pulling his troops out in the coming weeks, according to sources who spoke to The Mirror.

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It is understood the 50,000-strong group of soldiers, many of whom were recruited from Russian prisons, will be replaced by regular Russian soldiers who will take up their position in the eastern part of Ukraine.

The group’s demotion from the field was ordered after Putin reportedly became increasingly worried about his own position.

While he is the leader of Russia, head of Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin has increased his status and power in the region since Russia invaded last February.

Russia expert Bruce Jones told The Mirror that while the head of Wagner may have been close allies with Putin for “decades” before the invasion, there may not be as much love between them these days.

"This appears to be a parting of ways after Prigozhin had been openly critical, even abusive to senior military figures in the regular forces," he said.

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