According to the report, the Wagner group is sending Russian prisoners to Ukraine to fight there

More than 130 days after Vladimir Putin’s “military special operation” against Ukraine, Russia’s defense ministry appears to be turning to prison inmates and shipyard workers as fresh cannon fodder.

The desperate new recruiting campaign was reported in St. Petersburg, where the families of inmates at two prisons say the Wagner Group — a private Russian military unit linked to the Kremlin — is offering prisoners money and an escape-prison-free card for the “Search for Nazis” in Ukraine, according to the independent Russian news agency iStories.

“They said to my relative: ‘It is very difficult to find the Nazis there and they are very well prepared. They will be on the front lines helping track down Nazis so they don’t all return.” At first they said about 20 percent would come back. Then that ‘almost nobody returns’. The survivors are promised 200,000 rubles and amnesty. And if someone dies, they promise to pay their family 5 million rubles. It’s all in words, nothing is on paper,” said an unnamed relative of one of the outlet’s inmates.

At least 40 inmates signed up for the war at that prison, the relative said. Reportedly, after being told to “defend the motherland,” inmates were told it would appear they would be transferred, but that they would be dropped off at the border with Ukraine.

“Wagner recruits people. Nobody hides that, they [prison foremen] say so directly,” said the detainee’s relative.

Family members of another inmate who agreed to join the war told iStories he did so because he genuinely believed his conviction would be overturned and he would be free upon his return. But the recruiters don’t seem to really expect any of the inmates to come back alive: relatives of an inmate at a special prison said the men were sent to the war without any papers.

Workers at two St Petersburg shipyards managed by the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation and Metalloinvest owned by sanctioned oligarch Alisher Usmanov have also been reportedly targeted in a recruitment drive by the Russian Defense Ministry.

The Moscow timeThe Russian service reported on Tuesday that workers at the Admiralty and Baltic shipyards have been offered contracts with monthly salaries of 300,000 rubles ($5,300) to fight in Ukraine.

“They offered it to those with good experience, age has nothing to do with it. For example, they gave a draft notice to an elderly employee who took part in the second Chechen war,” one of the employees told the Times.

Workers at the Lebedinsky Mining and Processing Plant in Belgorod, owned by Usmanov’s Metalloinvest, described a similar effort, although the company denies it. According to the report, the Wagner group is sending Russian prisoners to Ukraine to fight there


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