Prigozhin was ousted: the Russian Defense Ministry is now directly recruiting “convicts” for the war in Ukraine
The Russian Ministry of Defense now directly recruits prisoners for the war in Ukraine. Previously, this was done by the leader of the PMC “Wagner” Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Russian prisoners participating in Russia's all-out war against Ukraine say they were recruited directly by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Journalists spoke with several Russian prisoners who fought in unit number 08807. The group known as the Shturm brigade was transferred in October to the front line in Soledar.
Three occupiers, while in the hospital, said that they were almost gone are treated and have to “walk with bullet wounds, with shrapnel stuck in their legs.”
“Our group consisted of 130 fighters, but we have a lot of people with amputated limbs, apparently there are 40 of us left,” he said one of the prisoners and added that he was sent back to the front before his wounds healed.
CNN also talks about the death of prisoner Viktor Sevalnev. After the assault on Soledar, he ended up in the hospital, where he recorded his last audio message to his wife. In it, the Russian warned that he was threatened with execution. Later, his body was brought to his wife in a closed coffin, and the Russian Defense Ministry stated that Sevalnev “died from a shrapnel wound.”
Sevalnev and other prisoners unanimously said that they were recruited by the Russian Ministry of Defense, and not by the Wagner PMC. Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the Main Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, told CNN that recently captured Russians are also saying the same thing.
According to him, this has “an echo of internal squabbles among the Russian military leadership,” and that the Russian defense hierarchy, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the new commander of the Russian troops in Ukraine Valery Gerasimov are creating a prisoner resource that they can directly control through the Ministry's own PMCs. Yusov believes that now the department has fewer convicts, but they “will also be used as cannon fodder, like Wagner.”
It should be noted that earlier Prigogine was engaged in recruiting Russian “convicts” for the war for a long time. For this, he promised them freedom after “working off” a six-month contract in the war.
However, on February 9, Prigozhin announced that he had stopped the recruitment of prisoners to a private military company. He did not say the reasons for this decision.
American analysts at the Institute for the Study of War believe that the Kremlin is afraid of Prigozhin's influence. Moscow continues to deny the so-called “Putin's chef” the legitimacy and power of Russia. This opinion is shared by British intelligence, they say, the reason for this is competition with the RF Ministry of Defense.
In turn, the Russian opposition leader Mark Feigin is also convinced that Prigozhin has stopped recruiting “convicts” for war against Ukraine, because this initiative was intercepted by Shoigu's department.
Subsequently, on February 14, Yevgeny Prigozhin himself named three main reasons for stopping the recruitment of “convicts”.