British intelligence said that Russia is accelerating a new program to recruit prisoners and send them to fight in Ukraine

Russian service members sit next to a mobile recruitment center for contract military service in Rostov, Russia. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov (SERGEY PIVOVAROV/)

The UK intelligence services have indicated this Thursday that the Kremlin “has accelerated a program to recruit Russian prisoners” to fight in the war in Ukraineunleashed in February 2022 by the invasion order given by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

“Since the beginning of 2023, the Russian Defense Ministry has accelerated a program to recruit Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine. It is likely that up to 10,000 convicts have signed in April alone,” they said, according to a statement published by the British Ministry of Defense through its account on the social network Twitter.

Thus, they have maintained that “since the summer of 2022, the prisoners were a key source of recruits for the operations in Ukraine of the private military company wagner group”, although he has qualified that “the group probably lost access to the Russian penal system in February 2023 at the height of its public dispute with the Ministry of Defense”.

The owner of the wagner groupthe Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, assured in February that the recruitment of mercenaries in Russian prisons had ended with a view to sending them to conflict zones, including Ukraine. “The recruitment of prisoners by the Wagner Group has been completely stopped,” he stressed.

Prigozhin's recruitment in a Russian prison
Prigozhin’s recruitment in a Russian prison

Finally, the British Intelligence services have stated that “the Russian prisoner recruitment program is part of a broad and intense effort by the Russian Army to increase its membership while trying to avoid a new compulsory mobilization, which would be highly unpopular with the Russian population.

This information is generated at a time when the Kremlin acknowledged that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is “very difficult” and is still far from having achieved all the objectives set by President Vladimir Putin.

“The special military operation continues. It is a very difficult operation and, of course, certain objectives have been achieved in one year”, said the spokesman of the Russian Presidency, Dmitry Peskovin an interview with the Bosnian television channel ATVaccording to statements collected by the official agency TASS.

The Kremlin representative recalled that Putin gave the order to guarantee the “security” of the residents of Donbas in the first place, something that, he admitted, has only been partially achieved.

“This task has been partially solved, but only partially. We are still far from being able to complete it. There are multiple shelling, shelling of Donetsk and other locations and we must drive the enemy back a considerable distance. Therefore, the operation will continue,” Peskov stressed.

The spokesman nevertheless maintained that “important territories in the Donbas” have been liberated, where Russia annexed the Ukrainian regions of Lugansk and Donetsk last September after referendums held without guarantees and in the midst of a war.

The Kremlin spokesman justified the slowness with which Russia is advancing in the war with the fact that it is “a special military operation” and “not a war”.and with the “attempt to save cities and human lives.”

“We are not at war. Waging war is a completely different matter, this is the complete destruction of infrastructure, this is the complete destruction of the cities,” he said. “We don’t. We are trying to save the infrastructure and we are trying to save human lives.”, he emphasized.

Ukraine accuses Russia of committing war crimes over missile and drone attacks on residential buildings and civilian infrastructure.

(With information from Europa Press)

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